OLYMPIA – The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office will recognize Bremerton at a special presentation Wednesday for its outstanding project to build a playground accessible to people with disabilities.
The City of Bremerton’s project to build an inclusive playground at Evergreen Rotary Park was the top ranked project of 44 competing in the local parks category of the statewide grant program, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.
“This project is a great example of what this grant program aims to accomplish,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. “Using this grant, Bremerton was able to leverage state funding, combine it with donations from citizens and create a new place for recreation.”
The park is Bremerton’s and Kitsap County’s first fully accessible playground designed to provide play opportunities for all children regardless of ability. The new playground is centrally located, in the city’s most heavily used waterfront park.
The Legislature created the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program in 1990 to conserve land before it was developed, and provide more places for outdoor recreation. The Legislature recognized that the state’s growing population would need more places for outdoor recreation and wildlife and it would be more economical to buy the land early. Today, the program is the largest state funding source for development of local parks and trails.
The City of Bremerton will use the $211,350 grant to build the playground and renovate the nearby bathroom, pathways and parking areas to improve access for people with disabilities. Work also will include landscaping the shoreline and main parking area.
The city is matching the state funding with $211,350 in donations of cash and labor, and a federal grant.
There are 3,500 children with disabilities within the park’s service area. The closest similar facility requires a 60-mile round trip drive to the Gig Harbor area.
The project is being done in conjunction with a local non-profit, Bremerton Beyond Accessible Play. The group, which includes families with children having a range of abilities, has been instrumental in project design and raising money to provide the local match.
Cottingham will present the award to the Bremerton City Council at its meeting at 5 p.m., Wednesday, in Norm Dicks Government Center, 345 6th St., Bremerton.
The competition for grant funding is high, with projects rated by citizens and professionals on many factors, such as need, how well the project is designed and cost-efficiencies.
“Only the best of the best projects gets funded,” Cottingham said. “Bremerton has consistently brought forth outstanding projects. The City of Bremerton has had the top scoring project five times in recent history and been awarded 24 grants since 1968 in nine different grant programs, totaling more than $4.6 million.”
The Recreation and Conservation Funding Board was established in 1964 to finance recreation and conservation projects throughout the state. Information about the agency is available online at www.rco.wa.gov. More information about the grant, as well as pictures, are available online at Evergreen Rotary Inclusive Playground.