Work continues on building a destination playground in Myrtle Beach that all can enjoy

Crews have started building the first phase of Savannah's Playground in Grand Park near The Market Common in Myrtle Beach.
Crews have started building the first phase of Savannah's Playground in Grand Park near The Market Common in Myrtle Beach. jlee@thesunnews.com

Construction continues on a “one-of-a-kind” destination playground designed to accommodate children of all abilities as more money to fund the $3 million project rolls in.

Once complete, Savannah’s Playground will join a host of more than 700 inclusive play areas now stationed around the country and built to meet new federal accessibility standards. But this one will be different.

Besides handicap-accessible swings and slides, Savannah’s Playground will feature musical instruments, interactive games, a zipline course, paddle boats and a water park for all children to enjoy.

Construction began in August with a groundbreaking ceremony outside of Crabtree Gymnasium where the four-acre playground will take shape. The playground will become the newest feature of Myrtle Beach Grand Park at The Market Common. It will belong to the city and be overseen by city staff, but a nonprofit is funding the facility’s construction and replacement of any equipment.

“Construction of phase 1 is well under way,” said Mark Kruea, Myrtle Beach city spokesman. Kruea’s office has used the Myrtle Beach City Government Facebook page to keep the public updated on the park’s progress. A Dec. 20 post highlighted one of the project’s latest donors.

“A representative of Publix Super Market stopped by the Myrtle Beach City Hall on Friday (Dec. 18) to hand-deliver a $5,000 donation and a formal letter of support for Savannah’s Playground,” according to the post.

In the letter, the supermarket chain called the upcoming park a “one-of-a-kind playground in Myrtle Beach,” according to the post.

Myrtle Beach City Council accepted a $100,000 grant from the state last month to help defray costs associated with the park’s first phase of development estimated to cost $1.5 million.

Before the latest donations came in, Savannah’s Playground, Inc., said on its website that it had raised $770,000. The nonprofit was formed to raise money to pay for the park’s development and cover equipment purchases. Several features of phase 1 – including a wheelchair accessible play area – have already been installed. The final playground will be complete with a rubber surface, easier for children of all abilities to navigate.

Plans for the park include an early childhood play area for children up to age 5, a tree-shaded picnic area, a playground for children ages 5 to 12, a water-play park with paddleboats, an interactive playground, a musical park, a challenge ropes course and zipline and a pier tying into a fitness trail around the lake.

The Grand Strand Miracle Leagues, an organization on a mission to offer people of all ages with special needs the opportunity to play and participate in sports, hosts its own inclusive playground. The All-Star Park near the James C. Benton Miracle League Field at 690 33rd Avenue North, complies with all Americans with Disabilities Act recommendations, but it isn’t open year-round.

“It’s not open at all times like Savannah’s Playground will be,” said Jennifer Averette, executive director of the leagues. “If it can be a place for families to go and let their kids run around and play in a safe place, I think it’s going to be a great addition to the community.”

Savannah’s Playground is named after Savannah Thompson, a star of the Grand Strand Miracle Leagues.

Thompson was born with Williams Syndrome, a genetic condition often characterized by medical problems like cardiovascular disease and developmental delays. Thompson was born with supravalvular aortic stenosis – a narrowing of her aortic artery and had her first surgery at 4 years old, according to savannahsplayground.org.

Complications from the surgery left Thompson in a coma for almost a month and doctors gave her parents little hope of her recovering well enough to recognize them or her surroundings. But she defied the odds and recovered. Today, she serves as an ambassador for the Grand Strand Miracle Leagues and the playground that bears her name.

Reach Weaver at 843-444-1722 or follow on Twitter @TSNEmily.