A town press release encouraged residents to come to the Parks and Recreation board meeting on Tuesday to discuss their opinions on the matter. Bell said he was pleased with the response the board received but mentioned more input is encouraged and welcomed.
Citizens contributed by sending personal experiences and photographs from other, more inclusive parks the board could use for inspiration.
Bell said community members showed examples of specific equipment, including swings, zip lines and musical instruments. Additionally, residents suggested other measures the board could take to increase accessibility, such as increasing shade, which can be greatly beneficial for children with certain disabilities.
Bell said the board would like to implement both interactive, ADA-compliant equipment and shaded areas in local parks.
When it comes to the cost of these additions, Trueblood said it's difficult to determine an exact number because it depends on the type of equipment in addition to the location.
“For instance if we were just to add one handicapped-accessible swing, in order to do that in our existing park, we would have to replace a piece of equipment," Trueblood said. "So the cost of the swing is not very much. It is usually probably $1,500 to $2,000, but to take out a piece of equipment and excavate the park and put in new footers and repair any drainage and do the installation and reapply the surfacing — that cost could grow to $15,000 to $20,000 very quickly for just one swing.”
These additions would be paid for through the general fund and potentially grants, Trueblood said.
She said creating a balance between adding more accessible equipment and removing equipment admired by residents is another obstacle they're facing in these conversations.
The board has instructed the town hall staff to come up with a rough budget to be considered for the next fiscal year, for which planning begins in early 2020, Bell said. But based on the number they come up with, the town might be able to find funding in this year's budget.
The town has not budgeted or created a design for the project so far. The Parks and Recreation Board is simply bringing attention to the topic and attempting to create a plan for future implementation.