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Goal doubles for 2018 in Walnut Grove project

February 1, 2018
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

The Walnut Grove, the Mahoning Valley's first inclusive and special needs accessible playground, will be hosting the annual fundraiser on Feb. 17. The Swing, Wine, & Dine, event will be held at the Maronite Center in Youngstown and will be sponsored by Komara Jewelers and co-sponsored by Storage and More of Canfield and Taylor Kia of Boardman.

"This is our main fundraiser," said Walnut Grove Board of Director's member Corey Patrick. "We do some other small fundraisers throughout the year, but those are typically partnered/third party fundraisers."

Patrick said last year's event brought in over $15,000 and was sold out. The hope for this year's event is to again sell out and bring in double the amount.

Article Photos

Photos are aerial views of the present playground, and the entire area including the walk bridge that connects to the Mill Creek Park Bike Trail.

The proceeds from last year's event helped with the installation of accessible nature trails that connect to the Mill Creek MetroParks bike trail, a parking lot and the first phase of the accessible playground.

Patrick said the next big phase for Walnut Grove is the installation of more equipment for the center playground. It will include equipment like zip lines, swings, imagination stations/pretend play areas, and some musical equipment.

Phase 2 is expected to cost close to $1 million, which includes the equipment, installation, and surfacing work, which is more expensive when dealing with a surface made for those with disabilities. Because of the size of the structures, phase 2 will have to be installed by professionals.

"The scope of our project goes far beyond just a playground, but the playground is our first step," Patrick said. "The entire project is currently looking at a plan of 15-20 years before every piece of our project would be completed. Phase 2 is projected to be installed by Summer/Fall 2018."

He said with amount of work left to be done, fundraisers will be an on-going part of the non-profit organization. Even after the completion of the project, there will still be a need for funds to be used for maintenance, expansion, and adding additional phases.

"With our dreams of an educational and indoor recreational facility, on top of other structures on the property, and the miracle fields, the costs is what makes this project be many years in the making," Patrick said.

As for the fundraising event, guests will have the opportunity to take their chance on some amazing raffle baskets and place their bids in an auction of some amazing prizes, according to Patrick.

"We are excited to welcome back Dan Martin, WKBN 27 First News Anchor, and Heather Fronk, Former Mrs. Ohio, to serve as the evening's Masters of Ceremonies for the second year in a row," he said.

Ticket prices are $50 per ticket or $500 for a reserved table of eight. Anyone interested in purchasing a ticket or reserving a table can do so online at Eventbrite (button below) or calling Gretchen McGarry at 330-986-9851.



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