New Binghamton Park Upgrades To Be Disability Friendly

$300,000 renovation project will include overhaul of existing ball fields and playgrounds

City officials gathered at the West Side city park in Binghamton, New York on Tuesday to announce a $300,000 Recreation Park upgrade project. Six-year-old Mather Stover-Ling, a boy with Spina Bifida that lives in the city’s East Side with his family attended the event.

He and his family often take trips as far away as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to find a playground that gives easy access to his wheelchair and he has always wanted a special kind of playground near his home. He may soon have a much shorter drive to a similar playground facility for the disabled in Binghamton. “I will be really excited to play on the swings and slides,” Stover-Ling said.

Mayor Matthew T. Ryan and other community leaders unveil the two-year project that would install new features catering to elderly citizens and disabled people. It would also overhaul existing playgrounds and ball fields. The new park will be a collaborative effort between Binghamton University PricewaterhouseCoopers Scholars program, the city and other community groups.

Organizers said they expect to pursue federal and state grants to cover just about all of the cost. Although the projects are in their early planning stages, several government programs cover projects that serve the disabled. Organizers said about 29,000 people, ranging in age from infants to senior citizens who are disabled, will benefit from the new Broome County park features.

The ball field upgrades are currently planned for 2014 and the scholars program plans to raise $25,000 to assist in the improvements. They most likely will include new dugouts, according to president of the student group, David Schwartz. “We want to be able to give back and help out, and for us it’s something we always look forward to as a community service project,” says Schwartz, a 21-year-old BU senior from Long Island. “This is going to be the best one yet.”

The group also plans to raise another $30,000 for playground improvements that would take place in 2015. The scholars program organized the construction of the Walnut Street Park finished earlier this year, said Schwartz. Both of the Binghamton projects will be similar in nature.

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