June 21, 2018
The South Burnett Regional Council has lent its support to the construction of an all-inclusive playground for special needs children and adults in Nanango.
At its June meeting last week, Councillors voted to give in-principle support to the project, subject to a fully costed proposal being prepared and presented to Council at some future time.
Councillors also voted to include the project concept in the council’s Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Plan, the first draft of which was circulated for public comment on May 20-22.
The idea for a special needs playground came about in early May when Nanango mother Cheryl Warner made a public plea for such a facility to built in the South Burnett.
Cheryl, whose 7-year-old son Jai is a special needs child, said he and other children like him had no safe place to play in the region.
The lack of facilities for children like her son meant she had to travel to Yarraman to access a limited special needs play area set up in that town by Toowoomba Regional Council.
Her plea motivated the Nanango community to act, and within weeks a public meeting was called to discuss Cheryl’s proposal.
The meeting decided that while Council’s draft Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Plan called for the creation of a sensory playground in Pioneer Park, Butter Factory Park – which the same report had slated for a downgrade – would be a more suitable location.
This was because the smaller park had better visibility; fencing; and disability access toilets.
The meeting also heard the Council had a long-term plan to link the park with a concrete footpath to Nanango State Primary School so children could access it easily.
The group voted to build the park through community fundraising efforts, and said they would not seek any financial contribution from the Council.
However, they believed the Council could still assist the project by giving permission for construction of the play area and minimising red tape.
On Thursday night, the Nanango Tourism and Development Association (NaTDA) received a delegation of members from the Butter Factory park group who asked if NaTDA would auspice their fundraising efforts.
President Barry Green warned the task of raising the estimated $80,000 needed to equip the park was not a trivial matter that could be accomplished quickly.
He said committee members should be prepared for several years of fundraising efforts, as well as the possibility they might not achieve their goal.
All the same, he applauded the group’s intentions and sincerely hoped the venture would succeed.
NaTDA members voted unanimously to agree to the group’s request.
NatDA will now keep all project donations in a separate account, and provide the park group and the public with regular updates on the progress of fundraising efforts.