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Dirt flies at Senior Survivor Playground after township increases contribution by $200K

Michigan Recreational Construction has begun work on the Senior Survivor Playground in Genoa Township. Patricia Alvord/Livingston Daily

GENOA TWP. — Construction is underway on the Senior Survivor Playground in Genoa Township Park.

The park celebrated a groundbreaking about a year ago, but dirt is flying now.

Last year, the 16 seniors who took part in the week-long Senior Survivor event at Howell High School raised $222,828 to support efforts to build the all-inclusive playground. Since 2021, students have raised about $450,000 toward construction.

They’re being financially supported by the Genoa Township Board of Trustees for the cost of site work, including excavation and a pathway. The draft design and construction are being completed by Michigan Recreational Construction of Howell.

Township Manager Kelly VanMarter said the delay since last year’s groundbreaking had more to do with funding than materials.

A rendering of the Senior Survivor Playground in Genoa Township Park. Patricia Alvord/Livingston Daily

After the project was approved by the planning commission, organizers secured additional funding from the township board “to make sure the full vision of the project could be implemented.” At first, that number was $139,300, part of an agreement with Howell Public Schools. But in November, final project costs showed a $212,613 shortfall.

VanMarter presented the board with two options: increase the contribution to $351,931 to meet the shortfall and build all aspects of the proposed park, or remove a planned picnic area and limit the township’s contribution to $259,031 total.

In late January, the township unanimously voted to increase their contribution to $351,931.

Michigan Recreational Construction has begun work on the Senior Survivor Playground in Genoa Township. Patricia Alvord/Livingston Daily

“We amended our agreement, amended our budgets to take care of the missing amount, so to speak,” VanMarter said. “You can expect in today’s market, there are some things that have a long lead time to get delivered than others, so construction is underway.”

Organizers hope to have a fully operational park by mid-summer.

Where it began

In 2019, Senior Survivor participants were approached by a former Howell Public Schools teacher, whose son has a disability, asking them to consider raising money toward an inclusive playground. Genoa Township offered to partner with the effort and provide a location.

“The goal of our playground is to provide a safe place where children of all abilities can play together,” said Dan Perrault, landscape architect for Michigan Recreational Construction. “Different aspects of the playground will be designed to meet the needs of children who have mobility impairments, have autism, or are sight or hearing-impaired. Everything will be accessible.”

The playground will include nature-inspired elements and textures, such as logs, stumps, ropes, boulders and plants.

— Contact reporter Patricia Alvord at palvord@livingstondaily.com.

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