Cass County Democrat Missourian

Hawk Ridge play area in Raymore taking off. It will be an accessible ‘nest’ to all

The Hawk’s Nest playground will become a new play area at Hawk Ridge Park in Raymore. The park is undergoing major upgrades in other areas which should be open this spring. The city is working on fundraising efforts to turn the play area into a unique accessible space.
The Hawk’s Nest playground will become a new play area at Hawk Ridge Park in Raymore. The park is undergoing major upgrades in other areas which should be open this spring. The city is working on fundraising efforts to turn the play area into a unique accessible space.

Imagine a playground that is as easy for Grandma and Grandpa to enjoy as it is for the kids. That’s the vision for the Hawk Ridge park playground, which is expected to be like none other in Raymore, and the first of its kind in Cass County.

The universally accessible playground will make it possible for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the area together.

Those who want to see it happen can actually help with the project by sponsoring individual pieces of the plan.

Want the kids to have a spiral slide? $15,000.

Think a rock wall would be fun? $12,500.

How about a climb through animal tunnel? Or a ladybug panel? These are both just $2,500.

Raymore is working with the group Unlimited Play on fundraising and concept for the play area. Unlimited play is a non-profit organization in the St. Louis area that helps to plan, design and build fully accessible playgrounds that allow all children, regardless of their abilities, to play together.

Raymore communications director Mike Ekey explains a part of the project is funded through a 2016 bond issue which is making major improvements to Hawk Ridge Park. Original plans included a playground much like the others in the city. Then the city was approached by Unlimited Play about a different concept.

“Their playgrounds go above and beyond what are typical ADA requirements,” Ekey said. “They have an inclusive system of play. They are huge champions for creating play spaces where people of all abilities can play. When we saw it we knew this was the kind of play system we wanted in our park.”

The bond issue set aside about $150,000 for a playground. The inclusive playground has an overall cost of about $800,000. The biggest reason for the extra cost is that all of the equipment will be custom-made by Little Tykes for the Hawk Ridge Park.

“There will be no other playground like it in the country,” Ekey said.

The design for play area will keep a connection to nature and the natural surroundings. Elements include features like natural limestone and a natural looking log for climbing.

At this point, the city is in a “quiet” phase of the fundraising for what they are calling the Hawk’s Nest play area. The parks department and the Raymore Community Foundation are seeking community partners to help with the big pieces of the project. They are planning to make a bigger push for the fundraising after the opening of Hawk Ridge Park this spring.

The goal is to build the playground all at once. However, it can be phased-in if needed. The names of the donors or businesses will be posted on each piece of purchased equipment, no matter how large or small the donation.

“We recognize not everyone has the ability to give $10,000, but they still want to give a part of the project. Anyone who gives anything will be recognized as sharing in the project,” Ekey said.

If you are interested in participating or looking at the catalog and concepts for the Hawk’s Nest playground contact Mike Ekey at 816-892-3109 or MEkey@Raymore.com. You can also make an online donation at www.raymore.com or sign up to volunteer for a community build day.

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