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Yorktown Breaks Ground on First Adaptive Playground
By Rick Pezzullo
A groundbreaking ceremony was held March 24 for what will be the first adaptive playground for children of all abilities in northern Westchester.
The new playground, which is expected to open by Memorial Day, will be located at Granite Knolls in Shrub Oak and is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It will include swings, slides and jungle gyms and have accessible play gear for children with or without disabilities.
The playground will be designed to allow disabled caregivers and wheelchair users to enter the playground and supervise children or partake in play.
“It’s really going to be an incredible playground for kids in the Town of Yorktown of all ages and all abilities,” said Yorktown Parks and Recreation Superintendent James Martorano, Jr.
Funding for the new park was provided from a $250,000 State Aid to Municipalities grant announced by state Senator Pete Harckham in 2019.
“This is all about smiles,” Harckham said at the groundbreaking. “There’s such an outpouring of support for this project. This is about inclusion.”
“Yorktown is a family and everyone belongs here,” said Yorktown Councilwoman Luciana Haughwout. “It’s a place where we will raise awareness. This is a gift that I think Yorktown deserves.”
Former Supervisor Ilan Gilbert noted acquisition of the land where the Granite Knolls recreational complex is situated off Stoney St. spans four town administrations, starting with Susan Siegel. He stressed each supervisor that followed took steps to move the development of the land forward.
“We have been waiting quite a while to get to this point,” Supervisor Matt Slater remarked. “This is very typical of the Town of Yorktown. We always try to find a way to lend a helping hand.”
Town Clerk Diana Quast said about five years she received a video and an email from a resident, Lisa Caniff, who was frustrated that there was no playground in town to bring her wheelchair-bound son, Lucas. Quast forwarded the information to Harckham’s office and “that started the ball rolling,” she said.
“It was very frustrating having to drive to other places to enjoy a playground,” Caniff said. “We’re very excited for all the kids.”
A sensory garden is also being planned near the adaptive playground. To find out how to make a donation to the garden, visit http://www.yorktownsepta.com.
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/