Phoenixville officials OK $25,000 grant application for all abilities playground

PHOENIXVILLE >> Phoenixville Borough Council has backed a community project aimed at helping children with disabilities, but some officials are concerned about being on the hook for the price tag.

In a 5-2 decision Tuesday, the council retroactively agreed to authorize a resolution committing to funding the all abilities playground equipment update at Reeves Park. The move was made in order to submit a $25,000 grant application to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

Council Vice President Dana Dugan and Councilwoman Catherine Doherty dissented. Council President James Kovaleski was absent.

Together, the Kiwanis Club and the Phoenixville Jaycees are spearheading the park project, estimated at $325,000. The goal is to update the existing play equipment in order to allow children and adults of various abilities, including physical disabilities and sensory challenges, to interact, play and learn together.

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The 4,000-square-foot upgrade will be located where the current swing set is situated, and will feature a new swing set. In addition, the playground itself will include a rubberized base for wheelchair access as well as a perimeter fence to ensure safety.

Tuesday’s decision guarantees that the Kiwanis Club and the Phoenixville Jaycees will raise the full $325,000 and whatever they don’t raise, the borough will commit to the remaining amount in order to be able to accept the grant money from the state, Borough Manager Jean Krack said.

The application was due before July 11 meeting, that’s why council retroactively approved it. If the grant application is approved the contract would offer a three year window to complete the project, which would allow for time to raise the full cost of the project and complete it.

“(The project) has a good shelf life,” Krack said.

Krack made clear there were no plans to add this project into the current 2017 or 2018 budget at this point.

The Jaycees have so far raised over $21,000 toward the project, according to the project’s website www.phoenixvilleplayground.org.

Part of the price tag includes about $75,000 in upgrades to the park bathroom to make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Krack said.

Dugan said Tuesday her no vote didn’t mean she doesn’t want to see the project happen.

“It’s not that I don’t support the project,” she said. “I love the project. I think it’s great. But if we do this, we are committing to covering this if they by chance do not reach their goal of raising this amount of money. We’re on the hook for it. I don’t really think that’s particularly sound.”

Doherty said she too is supportive of the project but felt the discussion should have come up at a different time.

“It wasn’t something in the budget and I wanted to talk about it during budget season,” she said.