After months of roadblocks, bake sales, dancing competitions and anything else community advocate Amy Martin could dream up to raise funds — and the weeks of sweat and labor that have followed at Oneida City Park since — Play With No Boundaries will officially open to the public on Saturday.
The all-inclusive playground at Oneida City Park will open with a community celebration at 6 p.m. Saturday. All are invited to the event, which will take place at the new state-of-the-art playground, next door to the park's gymnasium and community center.
The playground took the place of the seldom-used volleyball court at the park. It is designed to not only give special needs children a place to play, but to allow them to play alongside other children.
The playground is designed around accessibility and safety, and includes everything from wheelchair ramps to a poured rubber flooring.
Martin, a mother of four, was inspired to pursue an all-inclusive playground when she saw the difficulty her son, Joseph, had playing on the park's playgrounds with his older brother and sisters.
The $170,000 price tag affixed to such a playground was daunting, but did not deter Martin, who enlisted her friends for help and set about the task of raising funds for the playground.
After more than two years of fundraising efforts, Martin announced last winter that construction of the playground was set for spring. Fundraisers will continue to be held — the annual "Dancing Like the Stars" event has already been set for next month — in order to retire the playground debt.
A number of individuals and organizations donated materials or labor during the months-long construction process, which was spearheaded by Martin's uncle, Oneida contractor Steve Stanley. On Tuesday, Stanley was at the park putting finishing touches on the playground — setting bricks that were purchased as a fundraiser and engraved with donors' names to form walkways on either end of the playground.
Martin said she has been contacted by community planners in several towns — most of them much larger than Oneida — who are interested in building all-inclusive playgrounds in their own communities.
Saturday's celebration will begin at 6 p.m. and will include light refreshments.