Recreation and Liquor Operations Departments team up to bring a universally-inclusive playground to the city
Rounding up a couple cents on your next purchase at one of Richfield’s four municipal liquor stores could make a big difference in terms of Augsburg Park getting a universally-inclusive playground feature.
Richfield’s playground features are all Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, but for many of the city’s youth, the ADA does not go far enough to meet their needs when it comes to accessibility. Currently, ADA standards focus on accessibility for those with mobility impairments. However, youth with other impairments, such as autism, vision and auditory needs are largely unaddressed.
Richfield believes that all youth should be able to enjoy the city’s playground features. Thus, it is embarking on a journey to bring a universally-inclusive playground feature to Augsburg Park.
“A universally-inclusive playground is not just for kids with disabilities, it is developmentally appropriate for all ability levels,” remarked Recreation Services Director Amy Markle. “These playgrounds also encourage more parent-child interaction and include more sensory-rich equipment.”
As one could imagine, replacing a playground feature can be expensive. Most medium-sized universally-inclusive playground features cost approximately $500,000. In an effort to fund a portion of this project, the Recreation Services and Liquor Operations Department are teaming up on a round-up program at the city’s municipal liquor stores.
Round-up programs have proven to be very successful at raising money for a variety of charitable causes and organizations over the years. Businesses, such as Richfield’s Lakewinds Co-op, raise thousands of dollars on a monthly basis for worthy causes.
Most would agree that adding a universally-inclusive playground feature to the Richfield parks system is a worthy cause.
“A universally-inclusive playground is coming to Richfield. However, without the round-up program it would take a lot longer to make it a reality,” said Markle. “Playgrounds should provide an opportunity for all kids to play. This new feature will make sure that happens at Augsburg Park.”
The round-up program launched during the late afternoon of June 4 and by the close of business, without any promotion ahead of time, raised $281.
“The round-up program has only been in existence for a couple of days, but customers have already expressed their support for the initiative,” explained Liquor Operations Department Director Bill Fillmore. “More than a few customers have asked if they can donate more than just the round-up amount, which they can.”
The round-up program is just the newest example of the close relationship between the two departments.
“The new round-up program is a great idea that in the end will benefit all residents when we install a new universally-inclusive playground feature at Augsburg Park,” said Mayor Maria Regan Gonzalez. “It also reinforces the strong relationship between our Recreation Services and Liquor Operations Departments and how they work together to make Richfield a better place to live, work and play.”
The city’s parks system would not be in such a pristine condition without the financial contributions from the Liquor Operations Department. Annually, a portion of the profits earned by Richfield’s municipal liquor stores is reinvested in park infrastructure projects.
Historically, Liquor Operations contributes $450,000 a year to park projects.
Many projects, such as the pickleball courts at Washington Park, the bathhouse at the outdoor pool and the play feature at Veterans Park would not have been possible without Liquor Operations funding.
To learn more about the plans for the universally-inclusive playground or to donate to the project, contact Recreation Services Director Amy Markle by calling 612-861-9394 or emailing AMarkle@richfieldmn.gov.