Maude Neiding Park gets playground gift

By Jason Hawk -

About $40,000 worth of playground gear will be moved this spring to Maude Neiding Park in the center of Amherst.

“This is specialized equipment,” explained Scott Vilagi, president of the Children’s Developmental Center board. “It’s nice because it will bring that additional availability to the kids of the city who have special needs.”

From a wider balance beam to a swing that can support a wheelchair to roomier slides, the equipment was made to give optimum mobility to kids with disabilities.

The playground additions will be for everyone. They’re a gift from the CDC, which transitioned all of its services this summer to Mercy Health and vacated its building on Erie Court.

With its final business wrapped up, the CDC board is being dissolved. The change came after struggles with declining operating revenue.

“What we’ve tried to do is honor the mission and the 60 years of heritage that is the center. The entire board was thrilled we were able to come to such a turn-key solution” by donating the equipment, Vilagi said.

The playground equipment was built in 2011 with the help of Elyria, Lorain, Oberlin, and Amherst Rotary clubs, the United Way, the Community Foundation of Lorain County, the Ronald McDonald House, and others. The Nord Family Foundation provided in-kind labor to assemble the pieces.

In the past several years, it’s been used by kids and their families while waiting for their sessions at the CDC. Vilagi called it “a definite asset to the center, and one we want to pass back to the community be to able to use and enjoy.”

He said giving the equipment to the public park was a natural choice, since the community gave so much to the nonprofit center over the decades.

The gift came after talks with former Amherst city council president John Dietrich.

When city park director Don Anderson found out about the donation, he was excited.

“It’s gorgeous equipment. I took one look at it and I said yes, we are definitely interested,” he told the News-Times.

The playground items will have to be professionally removed, relocated, and installed at Maude Neiding by a third-party company due to insurance and government regulations, Anderson said.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk