Playground equipment going in now
After nearly six years of work, Joy Playground next to Colony Park Community Center in Atascadero is getting closer to opening. Parents for Joy, the group of community members that came together to make this park a reality, will host a sneak peak of the park at the Atascadero Chamber Mixer at the community center on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m. At the mixer, the group will announce the date and time of the grand opening.
Parents for Joy member Geoff Auslen said that the group will keep its promise of opening the playground within a year of breaking ground, which happened in May 2018, despite setbacks.
“Originally, [the park was] supposed to be three feet below grade,” Auslen said, adding that after ground was broken, it was discovered that there is city infrastructure under the where the playground will be. Having to redesign the park to be at ground level set the park’s progress back by three months, he said.
All of the playground’s equipment was delivered to the site on Tuesday, but Auslen estimates it could take a couple of weeks to install, both because of the rain and the precision that the accessible park requires.
“One thing about this project, unlike any other project, [is that] we have to be 100 percent right because it’s 100 percent ADA,” Auslen said. “There’s no room for error. Everything has to be absolutely precise.”
The first things that went in were the two ramps that would allow people in wheelchairs to access the playground. Auslen said that the largest ramp needed to be in so the treehouse could be aligned with the ramp and then the rest of the equipment will be set off the treehouse.
The playground, which is a fully inclusive facility for all abilities, is nearly fully funded. Out of the $1.2 million needed for it, only $75,000 is left, he said.
“We have a Bridge Loan for the remainder, but we want to have it all paid by the grand opening,” Auslen said.
For those who would like to donate to the playground, Parents for Joy has a GoFundMe campaign. Search for Parents for Joy Atascadero for the campaign.
Will have a community-wide yard sale on Saturday, April 13 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. around Atascadero. Individuals and organizations are invited to register with Parents for Joy to be added to the map. The cost is $15 for a household and $40 for an organization.
K Jons is also donating $25 from each ear piercing to the project.
The idea for the project began years ago when special needs moms Sarah Sullivan and Jenelle Allen decided that they could get a special needs park built in Atascadero. They took that idea to Atascadero City Council in May 2013 and were met by enthusiastic support, so they got started on fundraising and planning the park.
The city gifted 11,000 square feet of space next to the Colony Park Community Center to Parents for Joy to build Joy Park, which is named in memory of Allen’s daughter, Savannah Joy, who was born with Downs Syndrome and later died.
To be fully inclusive, it will be completely fenced in so those prone to elopement are safe and it will feature ramps to allow those wheelchairs to access the equipment.
“Parents who are in wheelchairs can finally get on the playground with their kids,” Auslen said, adding that even those in wheelchairs can get on the swings. “That’s what inclusive means—it’s for everyone.”
To learn more about the playground, go to ParentsforJoy.org.