Another local park will soon cater to all its visitors, including those with disabilities.
With inclusiveness and accessibility important issues, Ottenheimer Park in Little Rock is getting a well overdue makeover.
Earlier this year the City of Little Rock applied for a grant to revitalize the park so that it better serves all users. Soon it will better meet the needs of an important program, further improving lives of an underserved individuals.
"I want to be involved in the community just like everybody else,” Erin Gildner said.
Currently, the playground at Ottenheimer park has no paved path surrounding it. This inconvenience makes it inaccessible visitors with disabilities, especially when the grass is wet.
But soon, that will all change.
“They wanted to extend the trails to make it more inclusive and accessible to everybody who uses it,” Gildner said.
Along with new paths, the entire park will be revamped with new trails to include everyone.
“When my boys were younger, going out to the park, trails, playground or anywhere with them was just very difficult,” she added.
Gildner was injured in a car wreck in 2002. She's thankful the city and community realize that children aren't the only ones affected by park inaccessibility.
“It's a grandma that has MS and uses a chair or a grandpa that is losing his vision,” Gildner said.
Ottenheimer Park is home to Arkansas' only Therapeutic Recreation Program that helps impaired individuals increase mobility, activity, and independence.
“The only accessible entrance to this trail is through the community center, where they have therapeutic recreation. I had to use my wheelchair on the grass today because there are only grass entrances,” she said.
Activities on the basketball court must be cancelled after rain. A new accessibility trail will connect the court to the park's trail system.
Not one of the eight picnic tables at the park has trail access. Tables close to the recreation building will be connected by a new trail.
And, the trail surrounding the pond at Ottenheimer has potholes that make mobility difficult and even dangerous for people in the program like Gildner. It will be replaced with a 10-foot wide trail.
The grant money comes from the Arkansas Department of Transportation.