Nashua seeks an inclusive place to playBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent July 05. 2013 8:49PM
NASHUA — The future home of the city’s next playground — and possibly the state’s largest universally accessible playground — may still be in limbo, but organizers are hoping a site will be secured by the end of the summer.
With more than $100,000 already raised to build Legacy Playground, a location for the new play structure has not yet been secured.
“We haven’t finalized a site yet. We are still working with the city to make that happen,” said Jamie Stein, one of the playground organizers.
While the playground committee prefers that the project be built at Greeley Park along Concord Street, and the superintendent of the Parks and Recreation Department previously recommended that Leadership Greater Nashua build its future playground at Greeley Park, that location is not a done deal, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said this week.
“I’m trying to make sure that there isn’t another location that might make sense. I am still open to other options,” said Lozeau. “I am not sure if Greeley Park will be the one.”
Although the mayor mentioned in her State of the City address earlier this year that Greeley Park could be home to the new play facility, Lozeau stressed Tuesday that if Greeley Park is determined to be the ideal site, the board of aldermen would have the final say.
A previously adopted city regulation requires that any major changes at Greeley Park must be authorized by aldermen, Lozeau said.
“Everyone will have a say in this. I am open to whatever the best and most safe location will be,” she added. “It really is a cool project.”
An effort has been underway in the city to build the state’s largest universally accessible playground designed for people of all ages and abilities. Recent graduates from Leadership Greater Nashua are spearheading a massive community project aimed at raising $250,000 for the large play structure, which will be called Legacy Playground.
The playground will not only be designed for children and adults with mobility challenges, but also individuals with mental, hearing and sensory disabilities, as well as people with vision impairments.
The final design of the playground has not yet been determined, as organizers are still soliciting feedback from the community to ensure that every type of impairment and disability is taken into consideration before the structure is built.
“Greeley Park is the most visited park in the city. The playground equipment and the layout are outdated and really do not do the park justice,” Nicholas Caggiano, superintendent of the Parks and Recreation Department, previously wrote in a memo to the Board of Public Works.
Caggiano went on to say that two locations were initially considered for the new playground — Greeley Park and Sargents Avenue. However, after looking at the two potential locations, he recommended the existing playground at Greeley Park be replaced with the proposed fully accessible playground.
“I think that is the top choice for most people,” Stein said of the Greeley Park site.
If that is the ultimate recommendation, Lozeau said she would need support from Alderman Diane Sheehan of Ward 3, where the park is located, before she would bring forward any official proposal for aldermen to consider.
“My first pick would be Greeley Park, as there is obviously a need for change there. It is urgent, at this point, for (Legacy Playground) to find a home. I would support aggressively moving forward so that they can secure a location quickly,” Sheehan said this week. “We really seem to have hit a wall, which can be frustrating.”
Acknowledging there are some concerns with the Greeley Park site, Sheehan believes they can be addressed thoroughly.