When members of the All Abilities Trane Park committee first got together to try to create a play area to serve people of all abilities, they knew it’d be difficult to raise the money.
However, the group is coming up on a campaign milestone, committee president Francis Formanek said Tuesday during an event to celebrate a $10,000 donation to the project by Dairyland Power. The committee plans to make an announcement during its campaign celebration gala, which runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We knew it would be a herculean task to get to that point, but we knew our community was very, very good at supporting quality lifestyles and we knew that this was something that wasn’t just a want — it was a need,” Formanek said.
The committee is raising money to create a park where individuals of all ages and abilities can play together. The project will transform Trane Park, located at the intersection of 15th and Chase streets, turning just over 2 acres into seven play zones designed to connect with the senses.
“There are so many children and individuals who are left out as far as the playground is concerned,” Formanek said. “It was quite evident to us when we began our project that that was our main goal — to make sure that we have something for the individuals that they can go to in a safe environment that they can play in just like anybody else.”
Dairyland Power vice president of external and member relations Brian Rude said the group began considering donating to the project after communications director Deb Mirasola saw presentation detailing plans to create someone to serve people with special needs.
Rude said the project appealed to the company’s leadership because of its mission — to help people with disabilities — and its location.
“This is part of our neighborhood,” Rude said. “Dairyland is right down the street. Our employees drive here all the time, so we just felt we should be involved in this as a neighborhood project.”
While the group is still working on fundraising, it’s also looking to get started on the first phase, which includes a parking lot off of 15th Street, where the ball field is now, and a remodel and addition on the park building in the center. The remodel will add facilities, including showers and a calming area for children and adults on the autism spectrum to get some quiet.
Meanwhile, the group’s equipment subcommittee works to refine the needs of the seven zones.
“It’s costly, but we want to do it right,” Formanek said.
Bids for the first phase will go out next month and committee members hope to get started this summer.
Formanek and his fellow committee members will give a short presentation Saturday detailing their plans and explaining the multitude of ways the park will benefit the city — from attracting families to serving local medical centers.
“We are looking for people to come and just sort of find out what’s going on and maybe have them give a donation to see it come to fruition,” Formanek said.
The city of La Crosse has pledged over $1 million to the project and La Crosse County has agreed to contribute $250,000.