Although the past few years have proved troubling for Florissant native Gary Behlmann’s dream of an all-inclusive playground, the hope and dream of establishing one in North County continues.
Accessible Play, Behlmann’s organization focused on creating the playground, is in the process of refocusing and rebuilding its efforts to make the dream a reality.
, would be a playground established where children of all abilities could play.
being placed at Manion Park, and Behlmann had hoped to break ground on the land that summer. But slow financial donations and other fundraisers have made caused plans to be put on hold.
In March, Accessible Play held two meetings that invited public officials and other North County business owners and public figures to review the level of interest in bringing the playground to the area. Behlmann said the meetings proved successful and has got him reinspired.
He said he currently has built a board back to five members and looks to increase that number to as many as 11.
“We got real stale as a board,” he said.
Behlmann said two board members left, and “new blood” has come onto the board.
He said with the organization’s reinvigoration that fresh ideas and approaches can make the playground a possibility, but more support is still needed.
“It’s going to need more Florissant support [for Manion],” he said. “It needs to be supported in regional manner. This is something we want and we have to find a way to say the community needs it and a way to pay for it.”
In recent years, two accessible playgrounds have opened in St. Charles County, Zachary’s Playground in Lake Saint Louis and Brendan’s Playground in O’Fallon.
Behlmann previously said the St. Louis County Productive Living Board doesn’t fund capital improvement projects, and grant applications have not panned out.
For right now, Behlmann said he’s focused on building the board and seeing what progress can be made from there.
“I’m not quitting on this thing,” he said.
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