Brownsville unveils all-inclusive playground at Riverside Park
With a little help from students at Longoria Elementary and a pair of giant scissors, Brownsville officials celebrated the renovation of Riverside Park with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday. The new playground was designed to be accessible to people with special needs and also features a walking trail and exercise equipment.
“ I love it because it gives an opportunity for our parents with special needs kids so they can come and play and feel a part of the community,” Longoria Elementary Principal Myrta Garza, a member of the Brownsville Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, said.
She added that Riverside Park now marks the fifth all-inclusive park in Brownsville.
“ It’s only going to strengthen our community and help our community grow,” she said.
Damaris McGlone, Parks and Recreation Department director, said some of the park features that make it inclusive to special needs children are ramps that allow wheelchair access, a rumble slide and the soft padding on the ground. It also has ADA parking spaces and picnic tables, she added, and another wheelchair-accessible entrance will be added.
Marina Zolezzi, director of the Office of Grant Management and Community Development, said during the ceremony that the park is 1,000 feet long by 100 feet wide. It was identified as an area in need of renovation in the parks master plan.
Zolezzi said the new playground was funded by a more that $51,000 grant from the Texas Recreation and Park Society and an over $189,000 grant from the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation.
Rocio Almanza of Familia Azul/Autismo Brownsville, which educates and supports families of children with neurological disorders, said McGlone contacted the group about a year ago to ask for their input. Almanza said parents asked for a park with a gated play area and no nearby resacas.
“ It looks like a safe place. We will have more opportunities to go out with our kids,” she said, adding that Brownsville has made a big move toward inclusive parks. “We’re thankful to the city.”