Construction of a park for mentally and physically challenged youngsters on the Nipomo Mesa could begin construction in the spring, following a vote this week to by the county to authorize spending half a million dollars on the project.
“We have everything we need to break ground,” Paul Ready of the non-profit Jack’s Helping Hand wrote the Board of Supervisors. “The land is waiting, the plans are approved, the volunteers are poised, and the children are excited.”
The Board of Supervisors formally voted Tuesday to commit the $500,000 for Jack Ready Imagination Park – a vote needed to move the project forward, even though the money already had been set aside through collection of fees.
Jack Ready Imagination Park is named after a 3-year-old child who died of brain cancer in 2004.The 30-acre plot at the end of Illinois Avenue was donated by the boy’s uncle and aunt, Nicholas and Kathy Tompkins.
In 2006, Jack Ready's parents, Paul and Bridget Ready, founded Jack's Helping Hand to help other youngsters, providing therapeutic and other equipment for children and assisting with travel to distant medical facilities.
Former parks manager Pete Jenny has said he expects the park to include parking close to group areas, picnic tables that accommodate wheelchairs, roll-on sidewalks and specialized playground equipment, among other amenities. It could include therapeutic horse riding.
Paul Ready has said he hopes one day the site can be used for the Special Olympics. In his letter to supervisors, Paul Ready wrote that one out of every 10 children in San Luis Obispo is a special needs child.
“While our parks and playgrounds are filled with laughing, playing children, we seldom see our physically challenged kids playing outside,” he wrote. “There are no safe places for them to laugh, swing, ride and explore like other children.”
While aimed at disabled children, the park also would welcome children not facing those challenges, and organizers see the interaction benefiting both groups of youngsters.