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ADA playground keystone of Greenwood park renovation

Molly Hulsey //July 22, 2022//

ADA playground keystone of Greenwood park renovation

Molly Hulsey //July 22, 2022//

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 A rendering from Landscape Structures shows the ADA-accessible ZipKrooz zipline added to Leo's Landing in Irmo. (Rendering/Provided)This story first appeared in the July 11 print edition of GSA Business Report.
Irmo’s Leo Bugenske loves the outdoors — so much so that the 8-year-old has inspired at least two cutting-edge play parks across his state and one that holds his name.
Bugenske was also born with severe spinal muscular atrophy. 

He gets from place to place with the aid of a modified stroller due to deterioration of nerve cells impacting his movement, but according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the condition does not impact patients’ intellect or ability to perceive the world around them.

So when Bugenske’s family wanted their son, and other children like him, to be able to enjoy swings and tower platforms alongside his able-bodied cohorts, they helped Saluda Shoals Park craft Leo’s Landing Inclusive Playground in 2019.

The park includes a Treehouse Village connected by a ramp, a wheelchair platform swing, hobbit-inspired playhouses and recumbent bouncy-chairs, among other features, according to the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission. Contract Construction, builders of the park, celebrated a ribbon cutting of the park’s two-acre expansion, including an ADA-accessible zip line, terrain park and a music and decompression garden on May 5, according to a company statement.

The success of Leo’s Landing prompted Greenwood County to use $1 million from the American Rescue Plan Act toward making an ADA-accessible playground the keystone of a $10 million refurbishment plan for the 80-acre Greenwood County Recreation Complex, according to county officials.

Greenwood County received $13.7 million in ARPA funds, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

“It’s a shame not to have a playground for everybody to play on,” Brad Cuttill, director of Greenwood County’s Parks and Recreation Department, told SC Biz News. “So I’m very excited about that: to update that to get it where all bodies can use it.”

The first phases of the Greenwood County Recreation Complex renovation will cost the county close to $10 million, including $1 million allocated from the county's ARPA fund. (Rendering/Provided)The playground is at the top of a project wish list, which Cuttill admits won’t be completed with the first $9.1 million allocated from the county’s capital fund, for the complex.

He expects the 40-year park, former field for the Greenwood Braves, to gain three multi-purpose sports fields; an outdoor fitness area; a revamped baseball complex with a new fence, bathrooms and lighting; as well as up to eight pickleball courts and resurfaced tennis courts. 

Plans for an indoor gym will be under discussion for future phases, he said.

According to Cuttill, Greenwood County is contracting out the project now and aims to break ground at the end of 2022 or early 2023. The contractor, who could not yet be named, said the project would take them about 18 months.

McMillan Pazdan Smith created original renderings for the project’s master plan, and officials said North Carolina-firm J.D. Goodrum won the bid for the park renovation. The county is gearing up for “progressive design build” at this stage, where the contractor is hired on first before blueprints are made, according to Cuttill.

“This has been a long-term project,” said Councilman Robbie Templeton, also the associate vice president of Countybanc Insurance. “It’s been a dream of mine and of council’s for probably 10 years, but we just haven’t had the financial ability to do it.”

The park renovation was first approved by a community vote when Greenwood County Council passed an initiative to use a percentage of county sales tax toward select capital projects, according to Templeton. 

“We’re trying to strike a balance between taking care of the recreation needs of our growing community, but also, build on sports tourism to be an economic driver for the community,” he said.