Carly Carver Stanford
Editor, The Ashland Beacon
Governor Andy Beshear announced his selection of 41 projects totaling more than $4.3 million to receive funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) that will upgrade parks and recreation spaces across Kentucky. The City of Ashland is a recipient of a portion of this funding.
The City of Ashland will receive $175,000 to construct an inclusive playground in Ashland Central Park suitable for children of all abilities. The grant was a partnership effort between the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and the FIVCO Area Development District.
The project total is $350,000, as the grant has a matching portion that the city has committed to. Mayor Matt Perkins said that last year, the previous commission voted to hold $175,000 to apply for the grant for the inclusive playground.
While Commissioner Amanda Clark and Commissioner Marty Gute were not available at the time of report for comment, they were members of the original commission that voted for the matching contributions of this grant, and the dedicated team set on completing this project. Parks and Recreation Superintendent Amber Berry and FIVCO ADD Kelly Ward were also instrumental in the writing of this grant application.
Perkins said that while the City of Ashland was in a difficult position financially, like most cities due to the financial impact of COVID-19, the city felt this was the best decision for the children of the community.
“We were very much in a tight spot financially at the time, but we knew that if this came through it would be a big win for our children,” said Perkins. “It would fund our final phase of a complete remodel of our playground equipment in Central park.”
Boyd County Armco Park has had an inclusive playground with various equipment for those with special needs for several years, however, the City of Ashland’s inclusive playground is expected to be on a much larger scale.
“This will be the first inclusive playground of its kind in eastern KY,” said Perkins. “All our children deserve a place to play in our park and once completed it will be one of my most cherished projects completed in my years of public service.”
The Ashland City Commissioners also expressed their desire to complete this project for the children of the community.
“I am extremely pleased to be able to use this grant money to provide all-encompassing playground equipment at Central Park,” said Commissioner Cheryl Spriggs. “The $175,000 gives Ashland another avenue to serve even more of our citizens in a meaningful way. I am excited to see this long dreamed-of vision become a reality.”
"Receiving this grant for our inclusive playground is wonderful but it was only made possible by the work of several citizens, our city staff and also the team at FIVCO,” said Commissioner Josh Blanton. “The vision for this project started years ago, by people who wanted Ashland to be a place where all children feel welcome and have the chance to be kids, no matter what challenges they have."
Additional local projects funded by the LWCF grant include Flatwoods, receiving $82,802 to upgrade the City Pool Complex with new cleaning technology, patch work and two coats of epoxy. They will also add racing lines, targets, a new water feature at the kiddie pool, fencing, gates and an ADA accessible pool lift.
Also receiving $71,448 is the City of Raceland to add pour-in-place rubber to construct ADA accessible trails at Campbell Elementary School’s playground and to each piece of playground equipment.