Close Menu
Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Pines Rec Parks talks inclusive playgrounds

By Greg Ellison

(Oct. 14, 2021) Attracting new committee members and considering potential projects dominated discussions during the Ocean Pines Recreation and Parks Committee meeting on Monday.

Committee member Kathi Gottesman gave an update on the current roster of participants, which is anticipated to shrink next year.

Gottesman said members Trey Denk, Joe Pino and Vanessa Alban would soon be leaving the fold.

“I probably will vacate in January,” she said.

Next year, Gottesman is planning to relocate closer to her grandchildren.

Under association bylaws, the Recreation and Parks Committee can have between three and nine members.

With five members remaining after the departures, Gottesman said up to four vacancies can be filled.

Committee members agreed a special emphasis should be placed on attracting younger parents to join.

In other business, Recreation and Parks Director Debbie Donahue reported on the installation of kayak racks at the Swim and Racquet Club.

Donahue said kayak racks are slated for installation next spring.

Committee member Laura Scharle noted the importance of educating the public about cold water safety if racks are made available to use by early spring.

Donahue also previewed several locations under consideration for a recreational pier.

At this juncture, Donahue said General Manager John Viola has proposed three spots, including the Swim and Racquet Club, Wood Duck and the White Horse Park boat ramp.

“We’re in the beginning stages,” she said.

Also attending the meeting was Brian Lewis of the playground company Game Time, who reviewed options for adding inclusive equipment at Bainbridge Park or other Pines facilities.

Donahue said the proposal would be completed no sooner than 2023 to allow sufficient time to secure grants and donations.

“I don’t want to just jump in,” she said.

Donahue said building inclusive play areas is more involved and costly than traditional children’s offerings.

“We need to know the number of pieces and size dimensions,” she said.

Lewis said his company specializing in barrier-free playgrounds.

To launch the project design work would need to be completed.

“There are a lot of different things we can go after plan development and then fundraise based on those,” he said.

By involving a nonprofit partner in the planning process, more funding channels are available, Lewis said.

“Planning is where success is going to come from,” he said.

The goal for design development is considering “whole-child,” needs, including physical, social-emotional, sensory, cognitive and communication elements.

Lewis said data studies have shown approximately 85 percent of children ages 3-21 have disabilities in at least one needs area.

Committee Chair Patti Stevens said a development team should be formed to flesh out project details.

Lewis said Game Time  is a “turn key,” company that could both construct and oversee future maintenance of inclusive playground equipment.

“Game Time is the largest in the business,” he said.

Due to the company’s nationwide reach and decades of experience, Lewis said project design would be included in project quotes at no additional charge.

“We also have a big reach with manufacturers,” he said.

The introduction of an inclusive playground has the potential to attract visitors to the Pines.

“It could be a destination point in the area,” he said. “When we build something like this, people are going to come to it.”

Lewis said in many instances projects are completed in phases, with equipment and offerings intended to meet diverse community needs.

“All of us have the ability to play,” he said.