St. Charles County’s first all-inclusive playground will close for renovations on Monday, March 20, but is expected to reopen in early May.
The playground, in Hawk Ridge Park off Orf Road in Lake Saint Louis, opened in 2007 and is designed to accommodate children with disabilities. Over time, heavy use and wheelchairs have torn the soft, pliable surface.
The Lake Saint Louis Board of Aldermen approved a $300,000 contract in January to All Inclusive Life LLC for the design, materials and installation of a new playground surface. Revenue from Proposition C, a 10-year, half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2013 for city park and public works projects, will pay for the work.
Zachary’s Playground was created after Todd and Natalie Blackmore found that their son, Zachary, couldn’t play with other children in most playgrounds because a disability confined him to a wheelchair. They began creating a playground in Lake Saint Louis that the other children in wheelchairs could use.
The playground became one of the first with a rubberized surface and soon became a destination attraction for local families and those from other county parks. Now, there are two other all-inclusive playgrounds, in O’Fallon and St. Charles, and similar playgrounds have been proposed in Wentzville and Cottleville.
Darren Noelken, the city’s parks and recreation director, said a 10-year anniversary celebration for the playground is set for Saturday, June 24. Plans for the morning celebration include a 5K run and one-mile walk along with music, games and food.
Fundraising efforts to pay for an additional piece of playground equipment, the “Spin Me,” are underway. The “Spin Me” is a merry-go-round that allows access for wheelchairs.