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Cape Girardeau County commission dedicates $150,000 for special playground

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cape Girardeau County commissioners approved $150,000 Thursday to fund an all-accessible playground.

Melaina's Magical Playground, named for Melaina Cunningham, a 3-year-old who died of complications from pneumonia earlier this year, will have equipment for people of all abilities and ages. Other options could include an all-accessible restrooms and handicapped parking spaces.

Before Thursday, about $10,000 had been raised for the playground. About $350,000 still must be raised. Equipment will cost between $225,000 and $250,000, a special, softer playground surface will cost $150,000 and grading, installation and labor will cost between $50,000 and $100,000.

"We're all appreciative of what the commission did for us," state Rep. Scott Lipke told the commissioners. "We feel this will be a great project for the community and others from other counties to use."

Lipke and Andrea Cunningham, the mother of Melaina and a driving force behind the project, also asked for the commission to sign off on an application for a $75,000 grant from the National Park Service's Land and Water Conservation Fund. However, the three commissioners voiced concern about signing off on a resolution of support because the county would have to abide by the rules and regulations of the Land and Water Conservation Fund for its entire 310 acres of parks in the county. The commission instead agreed to sign a resolution by changing the wording to specify it would be just for the area of the playground, which would be in Cape County Park South.

"I don't want to sign something that I don't know what their rules are," Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said. "If that's what we have to do for $75,000, we don't want it. We'll get it from somewhere else."

Consolidation proposal

Later in the meeting, 2nd District Commissioner Jay Purcell proposed the consolidation of two positions in the 2010 parks budget. Purcell, who oversees the parks, said combining the duties of the public works director and parks superintendent would save the taxpayers at least $56,000.

He believes other positions could be consolidated or eliminated and save more money.

"I'm starting with the consolidation of two positions in my area first so no one can point fingers at me when positions in other areas are proposed," Purcell said. "The new position would be reposted and both people who held the two offices, along with others, would be welcome to reapply."

Jones and 1st District Commissioner Paul Koeper did not comment on the proposal during the meeting.

In addition to discussion of the parks budget, the commissioners talked budgets of other offices, most of which had budgets that remained the same or increased by a few percentage points. The commission will hold public hearings at 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17, with a vote on the entire budget at the latter hearing.



Pertinent address:

1 Barton Square, Jackson, MO

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"Before today about $10,000 had been raised for the playground. About $350,000 still must be raised. Equipment would cost between $225,000 and $250,000, another $150,000 for a special, softer playground surface and between $50,000 and $100,00 for grading, installation and labor.

I am amazed at how much a playground cost these days. Three hundred and sixty thousand dollars!!!

Wow! Not against any playground mind you however, this seems like a bunch of money for a play ground. **** I could build a very nice home for that kind of dollars!

Hope the money can be raised...I guess!!!!

-- Posted by GREYWOLF on Thu, Nov 19, 2009, at 3:10 PM

Brian Blackwell,

Is there going to be any public fundraisers for this cause? I'm sure many people would be willing to help donate $$ or time to this cause. Thanks.

-- Posted by Cape's Advocate on Thu, Nov 19, 2009, at 4:23 PM

Let's do the math.





500,000. Half a million for a playground? Is this an Obama Stimilus project?

-- Posted by interesting on Thu, Nov 19, 2009, at 4:29 PM

It's funny....a feel good story like this and hardly any comments show up. If this was an argument between Purcell and Jones about the funds for a playground and this board would be assaulted with hate comments. Good work commission. I hope it all comes together. I agree Grey.....360K for a playground? Ouch. They set it up, I would donate.

-- Posted by davereynolds on Thu, Nov 19, 2009, at 4:31 PM

Good lord, I bet a lot more good could be done if this money was pumped into our local schools instead of a playground.

-- Posted by Hunter S Thompson on Thu, Nov 19, 2009, at 4:32 PM

A million dollars was pumped into the Jaycee Golf Course this year. I think a lot could have been done for the schools with that. And who did that benefit? Children with disabilities? No, fat old men who have nothing better to do than speed around in golf carts.

-- Posted by unsubscribe on Thu, Nov 19, 2009, at 7:00 PM

Let's see. A new water park; a new Jaycee Golf Course; new trucks to pick up the trash in Cape & force recycling; a new, updated Arena Building; etc. etc. A playground that allows ALL children to play together: PRICELESS!!!!

-- Posted by hardknocksdegree on Thu, Nov 19, 2009, at 7:45 PM

mizzouht, and I bet that if you had a disabled child in your family that you too would see the value of this project

interesting, this is at least the second article the SEMissourian has run on this project. If you can read, you will see that this family once had a disabled child, and they had to travel elsewhere to allow their child to play on a playground. They no longer have that child, and in memory of her, they are pouring their energy into putting a playground in our community for ALL KIDS. I think many people will be happy to donate to the cause, which has nothing to do with Obama stimulus money.

-- Posted by my_thoughts on Thu, Nov 19, 2009, at 10:15 PM


NO pictures of Jay Purcell to go along with this article.

Jay, youre slippin buddy!!!!

-- Posted by 2wheeler on Fri, Nov 20, 2009, at 7:17 AM

My thoughts is correct. This is a playground that allows both disabled and non-disabled children to play together SAFELY on a playground. This has nothing to do with schools or President Obama. It has everything to do with a family that understands the hardship of helping a disabled child enjoy life with their own limitations.

In this case, opening your mouth without full knoweledge of this project is like showing your ignorance in its full glory. If you can't support something good for the children, it would be better not to say ANYTHING at all.

-- Posted by LiveAnotherDay on Fri, Nov 20, 2009, at 7:23 AM

I hope the playground is like some I've seen in other communities like Dyersburg, TN. Too many playgrounds don't have enough things on them for kids to do.

-- Posted by eyegotya on Fri, Nov 20, 2009, at 10:38 AM

Another waist of MNOEY.

As I look at playgrounds, I don't see any congestion of folks waiting in line to use them at any time. We have plenty of them around now folks, and they are not full by any means.

What are we trying to do anyhow?

I'm not against kids haveing a place to play, but it should start at home. Our parks and recreation area's are not expected to furnish one on every corner.

When I was a kid, we played with corn cobs, and sticks. we helped with the chores around home too. Kids nowdays want to do nothing. There are not too many of them that have ever even mowed a lawn.

-- Posted by Kickstarter on Fri, Nov 20, 2009, at 10:52 AM

I do agree with unsuscribe's comment. I am concerned given the dollars mentioned that the playground might be too scaled back to be worth it...I would think that we should go all or nothing on this, or at least, make it expandable. This is a good cause (a much better cause than a golf course or a water slide). I hope it comes to fruition.

-- Posted by Beaker on Fri, Nov 20, 2009, at 10:58 AM

One other comment, please make sure there is plenty of shade around this playground. Let me know where I can donate!

-- Posted by Beaker on Fri, Nov 20, 2009, at 11:01 AM

I don't have a problem with a playground. Have an issue with one which will cost 500,000 to build. Plus the upkeep. One way or the other my tax dollars will be paying for this.

-- Posted by interesting on Fri, Nov 20, 2009, at 11:07 AM

I do agree with unsuscribe's comment. I am concerned given the dollars mentioned that the playground might be too scaled back to be worth it...I would think that we should go all or nothing on this, or at least, make it expandable. This is a good cause (a much better cause than a golf course or a water slide). I hope it comes to fruition.

-- Posted by Beaker on Fri, Nov 20, 2009, at 11:08 AM

Everyone needs to realize you can't build a playground for $50,000. You should look in to what playground equipment costs. It is expensive. I am guessing part of the expense from companies is to help cover the cost of their liability insurance from the "sue-happy" culture we live in.

-- Posted by SEMissouri70 on Fri, Nov 20, 2009, at 12:08 PM


You're right that there doesn't seem to be much "congestion" at the parks now. I think everyone will be surprised as to how much traffic this playground is going to draw from around the region. There is nothing like it for miles!Imagine the boost to our local economy as a result of this! I think this playground will be a destination where folks of all abilities can come and play and interact together, not to mention getting much needed exercise at the same time.

This playground is going to be massive, costing nearly half a million dollars to build. I'd hardly call that scaled back. Remember, most of the funds for this have and will come from private donations and grants. I applaud the efforts so far and can't wait to see it in all it's glory!

-- Posted by Cowboysfan on Fri, Nov 20, 2009, at 12:12 PM


Do you work for the county? That;s the same line we heard about the Nature Center.

-- Posted by interesting on Fri, Nov 20, 2009, at 12:22 PM

Correct. Most of these funds will be drawn from grants and donations and fundraisers.

The activities will include all children--and adults! Imagine an elderly person's wheelchair in a specially-designed swing, or the first time that a child in a wheelchair can mount an inclined ramp and go down a slide.

But there are other benefits and therapeutic values in the motion,climbing and rocking areas. A soft-surfaced track surrounding the area, soft-surface to fall on are other items not afforded in a regular playground.

It's also to be posted with signage telling the value and/or calorie usage in 15 minutes of play on certain items, etc.

And this one is to be "all-accessible"--that means to "all." That means school children, too, especially those on field trips to the Conservation Center.

And yes, it will be a destination place promoting events for "all" children. And it will be near the interstate and state highways.

After we get this one, maybe it will make us more aware and eager for more of our parks, and schools, to be brought up to an all-accessible standard. And after the community continues to show this incredible support, it will jump-start funding and sponsorship for a multitude of places.

Think of that!

-- Posted by genii on Fri, Nov 20, 2009, at 1:09 PM

How often has anyone here taken their child to the park and watched the pure joy on their face when they are on a swing? How many have seen a child who is in a wheelchair have that experience? They want to know the pleasures of playing at a park just like any other child, I have been a summer camp nurse for diabled children, all children had access to the play ground, the smiles and giggles were priceless. I see one of those children, (who is an adult now) occasionally and he always talks about the time he rolled his wheelchair on the platform and actually got to swing, he was safe, no one had to pick him up and put him in a swing and hope he didn't fall out. While I agree, the amount they say it is going to cost is alot, but think of the years it will last and the memories a disabled child will have. We all want simple pleasures in life, and they deserve it more than most. I'm sure the people in this community would support fund raisers because it is for such a good reason, it may take awhile but I'm sure they'll make it happen in the memory of Melania

-- Posted by Sunflower Girl on Fri, Nov 20, 2009, at 2:53 PM

Thanks so much for positive response and support!

That's exactly what we need.

-- Posted by genii on Fri, Nov 20, 2009, at 4:07 PM

Sad that people will use as uplifting story such as this as an attack on the president and county commisioners.

There are many things I am thankful for in this life.

And when is that I am not such a pathetic loser that I have to whine in a blog about a handicapped park.

If you really have a problem with them, take it elsewhere.

-- Posted by lumbrgfktr on Mon, Nov 23, 2009, at 10:26 AM

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