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North Canton green lights construction, transforming Dogwood Park into an all-inclusive playground

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Posted at 7:21 AM, Nov 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-04 07:21:58-04

NORTH CANTON, Ohio — The supply chain shortages we've been talking about for weeks are affecting everything from food to cars, holiday gifts and now playground supplies.

But the city of North Canton is not giving up as it pushes to get the now years-long all-inclusive project done before winter weather hits.

Th city’s Deputy Director of Administration, Catherine Farina, says the work started five years ago with one phone call.

“A lady called and asked that she said, do we have one playground in North Canton with, you know, accessible equipment? I have a child in a wheelchair. And I was like, I'm sure we do,” Farina said. “I called the parks director. He's like, we really don't.”

Farina explained, “I think we had one swing at one playground and I'm like, it’s like 2017. How do we not have that?”

The reality check pushed Farina to put pen to paper.

“I wrote this grant and I showed like the needs analysis with so many children today with special needs and, you know, the ODNR and nature works grant said, ‘I agree with you, you guys need this.’”

Now five years later, work is underway. The partially grant-funded Dogwood Park all-inclusive playground project, which includes a rock wall and zip line, is now under construction.

“You have that concept of children with special needs playing with typical children, and they're engaging together,” Farina said. “We were able to go back to our city council and get an appropriation for a little extra money so that we could finish this.”

But Farina says the project has gone on without challenge.

“You know, the children wanted to be playing on this in July and August, and here we are in November.”

She says juggling U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) requirements, weather delays and COVID-related labor, supply and shipping issues are to blame. Not to mention, the race against the clock to lay down special turf, an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) approved surface for children with mobility devices. Still, the city is determined to finally bring the playground to life.

“We put a sign up that said inclusive fun coming in 2021. We don't want it to go in 2022,” said Farina.

The Dogwood Park all-inclusive project will be for all ages. The city plans to add on to the park as the community sees fit.

A grant from Akron’s Children's Hospital is already going towards phase two next year, which includes a children's performing arts pavilion.

The local library helped create a story walk as well.

RELATED: 7-year-old's 'Gwennie Penny's Lemonade' stand helping fund Brunswick's first inclusive playground