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Plan for new playground shifts to Cochran

Installation of an all-inclusive playground at the Cochran Primary School could begin as early as mid-June, according to the multi-organizational partnership which has raised over $430,000 for the project.

The Kids United Community Playground is the culmination of two years of planning and fundraising by the Williamsport Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, in partnership with the Williamsport Area School District Education Foundation, which serves as the project’s fiscal sponsor.

The playground will comprise about 9,400 square feet and will replace what is already at the school. Plans are to construct the playground closer to the school building in order to provide increased accessibility and lighting as well as to avoid the risk of flooding issues or water damage from Grafius Run.

It will be complete with features and equipment that contribute to the five elements of inclusive play, according to a news release from the group.

Plans include poured rubber flooring, accessible ramps for wheelchairs and other assistive devices. It also will have traditional equipment and structures that encourage imaginative and cognitive play, as well as fitness and instrumental activities.

Originally plans had called for the playground to be located at the Stevens Primary School, but the committee revealed that they had been contacted, prior to the start of the pandemic, by the Cochran Primary PTO about their own fundraising efforts to upgrade the playground at their school.

“Over the course of the last several months, that conversation evolved into what it would look like if our efforts merged,” said Wayne Fausnaught, committee chair and Williamsport Kiwanis member.

“As time went on, we explored the benefits of moving the location of the playground from Stevens to Cochran. The risk of duplication of effort notwithstanding, the idea of a new location revealed some stronger advantages,” he added.

Fausnaught noted that the Cochran site offers more accessibility, in that it is more walkable and central to both school communities. It is more visible in terms of security and it also balances a new playground at Memorial Park, which primarily serves the western area of the city.

The project received the approval of the

Williamsport Area School Board this week as the district will be responsible for the maintenance of the playground.

The district is currently in the middle of a feasibility study and Dr. Timothy S. Bowers, superintendent, told the board that the architects conducting the study have been made aware of the change in plans.

“They are aware of this playground and they will put that into their designs for any kind of future renovations,” Bowers said.

He added that although the district has agreed to upkeep at the playground, all costs of site development and playground equipment are being handled by the Kids United Community Playground group,

“This is a tremendous gift to our district for our students and children in the community,” Bowers said. “We’re very thankful for the time and effort the committee has put in to make this playground a reality and for the many generous donations given to support it.”

According to Fausnaught, the group is seeking to raise an additional $80,000 for support an expansion of the poured rubber flooring so that it covers the entire surface area of the playgound for enhanced safety and equipment accessibility.

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