Kelleys Island makes way for new playground

What is it: A new playground for children ages 2-12 will soon make its debut on Kelleys Island, and you can help make it happen. 

The Kelleys Island Park Committee has plans to install new equipment at the Kelleys Island Community Park, 121 Addison Road, in spring 2024. The playground’s footprint will be slightly larger than the previous play areas in the same location, according to Robby Zettler, communication director for the Kelleys Island Park and Recreation Board, at 50x100 feet.

“The new playground…will offer everything needed to enrich children’s play life,” Zettler says. “Most importantly, it’s inclusive. This means it’s designed to serve the needs of all children, including those with challenges.”

Included in the project is a set of swings, one of which is designed to allow for a child with physical challenge to be safely secured, Zettler says. There will also be a multi-user swing and stand-up glider that is a dual-user swing and a Volta spinner that accommodates multiple users.

“It’s an updated version of the spinning merry-go-round seen on so many of the old playgrounds; however, this one has a speed limiter,” Zettler says.

Additionally, there are three slides and a variety of climbing apparati, along with musical play toys like a xylophone and babel drum. Children can also enjoy a STEM play game that is at wheelchair-level, horizontal climbers in the form of ladders and climbing walls, and a step balancing beam that “makes for great motion play,” Zettler says. A bridge connects the climbing walls and horizontal climbers on the larger of the two jungle gyms. 

Among other items included in the playground are a Firehouse Exploration station, a small house for socialization and imagination, and a serenity spot designed for children who have difficulty with socialization or physical play. This area includes seating for 1-2 people and is designed to create visually appealing light play as well as STEM activities, Zettler says.

"We want to keep the island a family-friendly place with options for children,” Zettler says. 

Project fundraising: The committee is in the process of raising money to fund the project. As of the end of August, the group has raised about $140,000 of the $250,000 needed for the playground. 

About $120,000 of the total comes from the turf, which is necessary to make the playground ADA-accessible, Zettler says.

“To achieve accessibility for special needs, we have to put in specialized turf that can accommodate wheelchairs,” Zettler says. “Mulch will not work.”

The committee applied for grants and funding, many of which were awarded based on the inclusivity of the project.

“Although other forms of recreation have been proposed, this state-of-the-art playground is the most cost-effective and easiest to maintain,” Zettler says. “It also stays within the aesthetics of Community Park.”

How to get involved: To help support the project, scan the Venmo code. Additionally, donations can be sent to The Village of Kelleys Island, P.O. Box 469, Kelleys Island, OH 43438 or to the Kelleys Island Community Chest, P.O. Box 743, Kelleys Island, OH 43438. Be sure to include the word PLAYGROUND in the memo area of your check so it can be earmarked for the play area.