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New accessible park coming to Florence

Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 7:59 PM CDT
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FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - It will be the first of its kind: an accessible playground for all children in the city of Florence.

“I think this fits right into the idea of what rotary is about building a park for our special needs kids,” said Tricia Lewis.

Two Rotary clubs in the Shoals are celebrating the club’s centennial year and are doing so by partnering with the city of Florence to build the Rotary STAR Park—a sensory, tactile, and adaptive recreation playground for all children.

Florence Mayor Andy Betterton suggested the idea when the clubs were deciding on a project for the anniversary.

" I see it as an opportunity to do something very special. We’ve done a number of things with our parks and our playgrounds are very important,” said Betterton.

Rotary STAR Park Co-Chair Tricia Lewis says this project is near and dear to her heart.

“I have a special needs grandson. He is autistic and loves loves loves to go to the park and I can’t wait to share it with him,” said Lewis.

With the help of the public, that dream will soon become a reality.

“We have to raise a little over 200 thousand that we know of so far and we’ll be hitting that over the next few weeks really hard,” said Lewis.

They are using their platform to bring awareness and something new for the children in the Shoals.

“It’s a great way to help the public understand diversity. To bring children of all different kinds of abilities and disabilities together, to play together in a most appropriate way.”

Lewis is hopeful that the park will be completed by the fall. The city will contribute up to $125,000 to assist in building the playground.

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