Ocean Pines Exploring Handicap Playground Concept

OCEAN PINES – Association officials last week agreed to explore opportunities for constructing a handicap-accessible playground in Ocean Pines.

Last Saturday, the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) Board of Directors agreed to move forward with an effort to establish a handicap-accessible playground in Bainbridge Park.

“The recreation and parks committee has been working on an issue, looking at establishing a handicap playground in Ocean Pines to help provide some recreational activities for wheelchair-bound individuals, not just children but adults as well as individuals who may be additionally physically handicapped,” President Larry Perrone said. “There’s been some preliminary work done by Director of Parks and Recreation Debbie Donahue.”

Perrone told board members he had presented Worcester County Commissioners Chip Bertino and Jim Bunting with the idea at a groundbreaking ceremony in Bainbridge Park last week.

“We were encouraged by commissioners to seek assistance from the county and the state for funding because this will be an expensive project,” he said. “We have already received correspondence from individuals in the county to Debbie Donahue and myself about moving forward with this project. I just wanted to bring this to the board’s attention to see if we had a consensus to move forward at this point to determine whether or not this is something we want to do in Ocean Pines.”

Director Camilla Rogers said she supported the idea, but questioned the need.

“I think this is an absolutely wonderful idea,” she said. “But as we’re prioritizing expenditures, what is the need for this in the community, if known?”

Perrone said it was something the association would explore. He said a handicap-accessible playground could be used not only by those who live in the community, but by families who come to Ocean Pines to vacation or visit relatives.

“Also, the county itself does not have a facility like this,” he said. “If we move forward with this, certainly a contribution from the county and possibly the state or federal government will be involved.”

Director Doug Parks agreed, noting that the association could fund its portion out of the new capital reserve fund.

“I think we should pursue it, especially if there are opportunities for other funding sources other than OPA,” he said.

Director Colette Horn noted the only other amenity that provided access for those with disabilities was aquatics.

“It certainly demonstrates the need in this community,” she said. “We don’t have exact numbers, but we could get data on that. But I think it’s a very worthy project, particularly since there is likely to be support from the county, the state, and possibly the feds.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.