Cedar Rapids RAGBRAI Profits Slated for Playground
By Dave Franzman, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Thousands of RAGBRAI riders will descend on Cedar Rapids later this month as part of the annual ride across Iowa. And members of the city’s RAGBRAI committee now have an idea what to do with any money earned from hosting all those riders.
Any proceeds will go towards the construction of a universally-accessible playground to allow the disabled to have fun on play equipment.
One example of such a playground can be found at Indian Creek Elementary School in Marion. In additional to the usual playground equipment, the ground in some spots is covered with a soft rubber mat instead of the more common wood chips. That’s to allow greater ease of access for kids in wheel chairs. Some equipment, such as swings, come equipped with restraints as well not usually found on playgrounds.
The RAGBRAI committee envisions constructing an accessible playground as part of the new Northwest Recreation Center now planned for an area along Ellis Blvd N.W.
Jennifer Pickar, a member of the city’s Ragbrai committee, said the location of the planned recreation center is near the Ragbrai route through the city and part of the still-recovering Time Check neighborhood.
“We thought this was a natural tie-in. We know Ragbrai selected Cedar Rapids as part of our recovery efforts and this playground is a good addition because it will go into a neighborhood that is also still recovering,” Pickar said.
Pickar said the estimated price tag for a large accessible playground is probably around $120,000. The city will receive money from ticket sales to a concert Thursday, July 26th as well as payments from vendors and other sources.
The money won’t come close to the total amount needed. But Pickar said it would provide the seed money to begin serious planning for the playground.
Sven Leff, a recreation supervisor for the city’s recreation department, said providing play opportunities for kids of all physical and mental abilities is an important, and so-far unmet, need in the city.
“The ramp onto these structures are wide enough for a wheelchair. The slides are made for a person with a disability to go down safely,” Leff said.
The city has lined up sponsors willing to pitch in and make an accessible playground part of the city’s recreation scene. And after Ragbrai rolls through, the city should have at least the beginnings of a project.
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