It's the first of its kind in a Town of Cheektowaga park. Newly installed playground equipment that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act is available, allowing children living with disabilities the opportunity to join their non-disabled peers.
The new additions to playground equipment in Stiglmeier Park include two accessible swings, with bucket seats and straps to keep the child secured, and a ground-level merry-go-round which allows a wheelchair to be rolled inside. The pieces are located above a smooth, rubber surface which allows access directly from the parking lot.
Cheektowaga Town Supervisor Diane Benczkowski and State Assemblymember Monica Wallace demonstrated the equipment Friday morning.
"We made sure that there was a sidewalk path right from the parking lot, the sidewalks, right down, so you can wheel right into that merry-go-round behind me and wheel the wheelchair right on the merry-go-round," Benczkowski said. "And the special needs child can be playing with all the children, so they don't feel left out.”
The equipment cost $30,000 to install. Wallace provided a new $10,000 state grant, while the Town of Cheektowaga came up with $20,000 from previous state grants.
Wallace says as an elected official, and also a mother, the project was important. The new equipment in Stiglmeier Park is the first in any Cheektowaga town playground, as well as anywhere in Wallace's Assembly District, which also covers Lancaster.
Buildings and sidewalks have been adjusted over the years to comply with ADA standards. Wallace was asked if mandatory ADA compliance may one day come to playgrounds.
"That's an interesting question. I think we like to encourage people to do it right now. Money is going to be very tight in the next two years," she replied. "I think at least in the short term, we'd like to encourage people to do that. I know there have been some private foundations that have stepped up and helped provide playground equipment. I'm not sure about requiring it, but absolutely encouraging it is what I would say in the foreseeable future."