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Accessible playground under construction near Rotary Splash Pad

The design allows for a seamless flow from the Rotary Splash Pad to the accessible playground

There is exciting news for the many families who currently use the Rotary Splash Pad behind the North Bay Museum, with word construction of phase two is well underway, on time and on budget.  

“Phase two is the Rotary accessible playground. It incorporates a boat, which is meant of course to represent the Chief Commanda, and a lighthouse which is the port of North Bay for lack of a better word,” explained Tony Limina, co-chair of the Rotary Signature Project and member of the Rotary Club of North Bay-Nipissing.

“The beauty of this particular playground is the surface, which is rubberized pallets so it is quite safe for children who may fall down. There is a large slide and other little features there.”

Jeff Celentano, a committee member representing the Rotary Club of North Bay, explains the design features which make the playground accessible.  

“What typically happens in a structure like this to make it accessible is, number one, the ramps are wider. Number two, the surface at grade is gentler, and softer than just asphalt or concrete. Number three, there are actually elements or features that a person with a physical disability can physically get onto and use it and enjoy it. And that has been built into the design of this particular facility,” said Celentano who went on to further explain the “elements.”

“They are the individual fixtures, the rides, the games, the exercises that will make up the playground itself such as slides, something that would rock, something that would twirl. If we can help to accommodate persons with disabilities to use this stuff, plus the Splash pad which is also accessible by design, then we have helped the city and helped the community to create a space where persons with some sort of disability or special need can enjoy.”

The design allows for a seamless flow from the Rotary Splash Pad, which opened to the public in 2020, directly to the playground so children can easily run between the two areas.  

Based on a scale of small, medium, or large, the playground is leaning towards being on the large size according to Celentano.

“There is a reason for that. It didn’t come from Rotary so much as it came from city professional staff saying we need a play structure of considerable size to compliment the Splash Pad, and we need it between the one at Shabogesic Beach (King’s Landing) and the other one which was the Kiwanis project down by Lee Park. They specifically said they wanted three in a space.”

The Family of Rotary project is supported by the Rotary Club of North Bay-Nipissing, and the Rotary Club of North Bay with some support from the Rotaract Club of North Bay- Nipissing.

“What we are trying to do here as the Family of Rotary in North Bay is, we’re trying to tie down and identify that end of the former rail lands as a community space that Rotary has been very, very involved in and it is kind of appropriate that here we are celebrating 100 years of Rotary in North Bay, and here we are as sister clubs building something that the community can enjoy,” said Celentano.

The second phase is directly related to the success of phase one.         

“What took us to phase two is that we were very successful in our asks in phase one. We ended up with more money than we had anticipated, and we thought it would be appropriate to expand the project,” said Limina.

“We’re now into fundraising for phase two and it is a bit more challenging right now. We expect we (Rotary) are going to achieve the challenge which was $110-thousand. I would say we’re about 10 to 15 thousand dollars shy of that right now.”

The overall cost of the project is quite significant, coming in at just over $1.2 million.

Sharing in the cost is the City of North Bay and Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC).

“What is key with what we are doing is that we are part of the downtown waterfront strategic plan, and all of this is laid out in the document. And it is nice to see that the plan that is out there is actionable and that different groups are taking different parts of it and making things happen. It speaks well to what the community is all about and I think the collaboration being shown here between the city, various levels of government, the service clubs, and private corporations is just fantastic,” Limina stated.   

The committee members are not at liberty to divulge any details, but a third phase is currently being considered.    

”We are just in the process of starting to talk to different corporations that might want to get involved to the extent that we can excite these corporations into coming along with us on Phase Three. We do have a plan,” Limina shared.

“But we won’t make a decision until we get approval from our respective boards. That is key.”

Celentano further stated, “We really think that with the Splash Pad in phase one and the accessible playground as the second phase, we’re starting to create a centre of interest and activity. Phase three would occur somewhere between that and over towards Marina Point (retirement home),” Celentano added.

“We can’t get into the details yet because it is still very early days, but it will be something.”