$27,000 in AARP grants boost city’s Grandparents Park

07/07/2013 6:40 PM

07/08/2013 6:46 AM

As size goes, Grandparents Park won’t overwhelm you.

It barely covers half an acre, tucked along Kellogg Drive and Estelle, just west of Hillside.

But the city’s newest park – situated on land already owned by the city and developed with $27,000 in grants from AARP Kansas – will be formally introduced during a dedication ceremony at 9 a.m. July 20.

AARP will provide free ice cream and bottled water. A neighbor has arranged for a band to play. Grandparents and their grandchildren are invited to stay after the dedication for some activities.

“They’ve gone all out,” said Doug Kupper, director of the city’s park and recreation department.

The idea for the park idea started after AARP helped three neighborhoods – Schweiter, Schweiter East and Sunnyside – do an analysis of what improvements could be made. Their area of southeast Wichita has a number of older residents.

“We know people want to stay in their homes and communities as long as possible,” said Maren Turner, AARP’s state director. “One way to do that is to make sure there are stores and recreation nearby.

“A coalition of the community agreed what would be most useful for that area was a place to exercise, relax and have a good time.”

And for grandparents, that means spending time with their grandchildren.

In 2012, AARP Kansas went to the city and proposed donating $15,000 to put in a sidewalk and a three-sided exercise station, so the city could use empty space as a park.

The city was more than happy to do something with the small parcel of land, which it gained as part of the right-of-way acquisition in the Kellogg expansion project.

“We were already paying to have it mowed,” Kupper said.

This year, AARP Kansas gave the city another grant of about $12,000 to put in two benches and some playground equipment that included a rocking horse and swings. Ben Franklin Plumbing, a nearby business, contributed $1,000 for the equipment, Kupper said.

The only cost to the city is to continue maintaining the property, which it was already having to do.

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