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Friends' Group Forms to Improve City Parks
CT 06 05 18
Kickoff event 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Cultural Corner

A community based organization - Friends of Chillicothe Parks, Inc. - has formed to support the efforts of the Chillicothe Parks Department to maintain, enhance and promote the city parks' system. Organizing members have worked closely with Josh Norris, Chillicothe Parks and Recreation director, to raise awareness within the community of the opportunity to get involved and assist with the mission of the parks department.


C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

CAPTION: Overcast skies and temperatures in the low 70s created an ideal opportunity for Adrian Cooper to bring her children and grandmother, Margie Smith, to Simpson Park Monday morning. Although Cooper was able to push a wheelchair through the wood-chip base, she noted that a solid surface would improve the playground’s accessibility. Installing a new playground surface that is more accommodating for people of all abilities is among priorities for the newly-formed Friends of Chillicothe Parks, Inc.

A kickoff (come-and-go) event has been planned for this Thursday, June 7, at Cultural Corner Art Guild and Gallery from 5:30 until 7 p.m. The event will highlight plans to renovate the Simpson Park playground to include proper drainage, a new playground surface and equipment that is accessible to people of all abilities. The event is planned also to encourage members of the public to join in the efforts to maintain and improve city parks through membership in the Friends of Chillicothe Parks organization. Light refreshments will be served. Pictures and diagrams of the proposed project will be available at the kickoff.

The playground renovation project - which also would include relocating the younger children's playground area further north and away from the highway - is estimated to cost $300,000. The Friends of Chillicothe Parks, Inc., is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and establishes new avenues for funding and the ability to pursue grants. "Municipal funds are finite," said Ryan Horsman, Friends of Chillicothe Parks, Inc., chairman. "The Chillicothe parks system is remarkable, but... it needs a private-public partnership to make sure that our park system stays in good condition." He stated that the organization's interest is to support all parks, but its first priority is to rehabilitate the Simpson Park playground. "Simpson Park is the crown jewel," Horsman said. "We see people stop there from all over the place. It's a favorite spot in town, but when we get a lot of rain, it's not usable for several days."

Some improvements already have been made at the Simpson Park playground. An inclusive spinner, similar to a merry-go-round, was recently installed for children of all ages and abilities. The addition was made possible by a $5,000 grant through the Rotary Club. Other new additions made possible through the grant were an inclusive swing (with a latch over the top) and a generation swing which has a toddler seat on one end and an adult seat on the other. Local Rotarians installed the new playground equipment.

Horsman said that the group would like input from people throughout the community. Norris said that the Friends group could help bridge financial gaps in providing funds to make parks improvements. "The group will have a positive impact on the park system," Norris stated. "It will allow us to go out and seek possible other areas of funding to do different things in the park that we probably otherwise would not be able to do." Organizing members of the Friends group, in addition to Horsman, are Meghanne Albrecht, Lou Cowherd, Steve Holt and Allison Pickering.

CAPTION: The interest of The Friends of Chillicothe Parks, Inc., is to support all parks, but its first priority is to rehabilitate the Simpson Park playground.

C-T Photos / Catherine Stortz Ripley

CAPTION: An inclusive spinner, similar to a merry-go-round, was recently installed in the playground at Simpson Park for children of all ages and abilities. This addition and two others were made possible by a $5,000 grant through the Rotary Club. Local Rotarians installed the new playground equipment.

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