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Construction on Savannah’s Playground for children with disabilities could begin next month

Savannah Thompson receives a check with Mayor John Rhodes for Savannah's Playground from the Carolina Country Music Fest donations. The last day of the Carolina Country Music Fest in Myrtle Beach is Sunday, June 7th with top country artists such as Marshall Tucker Band, Kellie Pickler, Hunter Hayes and Lady Antebellum performing their hits on the Jack Daniels stage at the Boardwalk.
Savannah Thompson receives a check with Mayor John Rhodes for Savannah's Playground from the Carolina Country Music Fest donations. The last day of the Carolina Country Music Fest in Myrtle Beach is Sunday, June 7th with top country artists such as Marshall Tucker Band, Kellie Pickler, Hunter Hayes and Lady Antebellum performing their hits on the Jack Daniels stage at the Boardwalk. jlee@thesunnews.com

Plans are moving along for a playground designed to accommodate children with disabilities in Myrtle Beach, with hopes to begin construction next month.

Savannah’s Playground will belong to the city and be overseen by city staff, but a non-profit will fund the facility’s construction and replacement of any equipment.

“We’re about ready to start something soon,” said Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes, who established the nonprofit for the playground.

Rhodes said about $760,000 has been raised toward the playground’s $3 million price tag. That money has come from local governments and the state, as well as private donations from individuals and businesses, Rhodes said.

On Sunday, the playground got a check for $10,000 from the organizers of the Carolina Country Music Fest, which took place on the former Pavilion site in Myrtle Beach during the weekend.

“The main point is that if you have a sister with special needs and wanted to go play with her, you would be able to because this playground will accommodate everyone,” Rhodes said.

Savannah’s Playground, which is referred to as an “enabling park,” will include a number of components, such as a music park, adapted paddle boats and a zipline, that will allow children with disabilities to take part.

Rhodes, who met with engineers last week, said the park’s first phase will include the playground itself as well as a musical park with large music instruments such as xylophones. Rhodes said he hopes construction on the $1.4 million first phase will begin July 1 and should take about eight weeks.

“Once we get past the first phase we’re going to start a bigger campaign for donations,” he said.

Construction of the full 4-acre park will be done in three phases, Rhodes said.

The Grand Strand Miracle Leagues, an organization whose purpose is to give people with special needs access to sports and recreational activities, has a playground that is available to children during its sporting events, but secured when those games are over.

Savannah’s Playground would be open year-round, Rhodes said. The playground is named for 19-year-old Savannah Thompson, who plays soccer and baseball with the Grand Strand Miracle Leagues.

The playground is proposed to have an early childhood play area for children up to age 5; a picnic area under some trees; a school age play area for children ages 5 to 12; an interactive play area featuring equipment that can be manipulated such as a large tic-tac-toe board; the musical park; a zipline; a pier on the lake along the fitness trail; and several swing sets and water play park near the pond by Crabtree Memorial Gymnasium.

For more information about Savannah’s Playground, visit http://savannahsplayground.org.

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or on Twitter @TSN_mprabhu.

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