Town of Indian Trail was recently named one of the award recipients of Connect NC Bond funds - monies the Town will use to construct an all-inclusive playground at the popular Crooked Creek Park.
Forty-six municipalities put in requests for more than $9 million worth of projects, with Indian Trail being selected as one of only 17 recipients for 2017. The Town will receive $172,125 for the project, which will be the first of its kind in Union County. The Town will be responsible for $57,375, bringing the complete project estimate to $229,500.
The playground will include 6,000 square feet of play space with accessible surfacing and play structures, swings, slides and more that are designed especially for individuals with disabilities. It also will include several play panels, a wheelchair accessible teeter totter and many other elements to provide equal play opportunities. Children with inefficient touch perception, limited play skills, or motor challenges may not be able to participate in full play activities to develop tactile sense at other playgrounds, but play panels at the all-inclusive playground will offer all children the chance to explore and engage in tactile play, which helps build new skills.
Plans for the playground are still being considered and no timeline on the project is currently available. The Town of Indian Trail hopes the playground will soon be joined by an accessible ball field through the Miracle League of Indian Trail, which is raising money to construct the field at Crooked Creek Park.
"We believe this playground will not only serve as a play feature, but a gathering place for family and friends," Indian Trail Parks and Recreation Director Jay Tryon said. "With Indian Trail being the largest municipality in Union County, and considering our partnership with the Miracle League of Indian Trail, this is the perfect location to offer a much needed amenity to let everyone 'Play Ball.'"
The playground will be the latest addition to the growing park, which has rapidly gained in popularity after opening in Indian Trail in 2015. Crooked Creek Park already includes a shaded playground with a zip line and other unique features, a two-section dog park, an 18-hole disc golf course, outdoor fitness equipment, four ball fields with a concession stand and more. The park will add a splashpad this spring, and more walking trails are planned for the near future.
"We are so excited to start this process and expand what the Town offers to its residents and surrounding park visitors," Tryon said. "Parks are meant to improve the quality of life and this playground will be able to provide a demand for thousands of kids seeking a place to play."
The playground grant was made possible by the Connect NC Bond - of which $3 million was allocated to the Parks & Recreation Trust Fund to be used exclusively for grants to local government units or public authorities. The money must be used for construction or adaptation of facilities that meet the unique needs of children and veterans with physical and developmental disabilities, enabling them to participate in recreational and sporting activities, regardless of their abilities.
N.C. Rep. Dean Arp, who represents the Indian Trail area in his District 69 seat, was instrumental in the $3 million being set aside for parks and recreation facilities. He spoke at Crooked Creek Park in December about the importance of the bond, and supporting projects liked the one proposed by Indian Trail.
"It's not simply access ... this is to enhance their ability to participate like other children at these park facilities - so that they can swing on a swing, so that they can play ball," Arp said in December. "And it goes so much further in terms of inclusion. I really took the lead from what the Town and community was already doing. I was made aware of those needs and how people travel two or three hours to go to facilities that have these special needs equipment, and I said we could transform this community and be a hub in a regional effort to make the lives of these families so much better. What they are doing here, and in this county, I am so proud of."
Find more information on Indian Trail's Parks and Recreation Department at www.itsparksandrec.com.