Theodore Henry, 9, explores the new Boundless playground at Hoover Elementary School. Bob Pennell / Mail Tribune photo - Bob Pennell

Playground needs one final push

A parent-teacher organization that installed Medford's first completely wheelchair-accessible playground at Hoover Elementary School on Siskiyou Boulevard needs about $1,300 to pay for a ramp railing that turned out to be longer and more expensive than expected.

The Hoover PTO budgeted about $3,700 to install a railing on a cement ramp that will serve as the entry point for wheelchairs to the playground as well as the way up to the main play structure. Without the railing, the ramp will not comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Knife River Construction in Central Point donated the labor and materials to construct the cement ramp, and the PTO had planned to pay to install the railing.

The galvanized steel railing costs $52.50 per foot, said Katie Tso, Hoover PTO member. The total railing will cost about $4,935, $1,260 more than what the PTO has earmarked for the project, Tso said.

"We have enough money for about 70 feet of the railing, but we still need another 24 feet," Tso said. "We have to have it in place before school starts."

Classes at the school, at 2323 Siskiyou Blvd., begin Sept. 8.

A closed sign has been posted at the playground, but some parents continue to bring their children to play on parts of the equipment that are already secured, including the main blue and red steel play structure.

"I think it's wonderful that parents put the money together in this poor economy to put in a playground that anyone can use," said Joe Henry, whose son Franklin, 13, has autism.

Henry said the padded tiles covering the grounds of the main play area are good for kids with sensory problems.

"They feel more secure, and the fear of falling is reduced," he said.

During the past three years, the PTO raised $121,000 in funds and in-kind donations to build the playground.

Its vision was to create a regional draw for the more than 1,600 children who are diagnosed with a disability in Jackson County.

All playgrounds are required by law to be accessible enough for a wheelchair to pull up to the play area. However, unlike the Hoover playground, the play equipment in most playgrounds is not wheelchair accessible.

The playground has padded-tile surfacing under the main play structure and bark dust under the regular swing set, both of which can be traversed by a wheelchair. Ramps on the main five-level play structure also allow children in wheelchairs to roll up to the highest level along with other children.

The play structure contains sensory activities such as drums and pinball on panels geared toward young children as well as those who have autism.

The playground also includes two bucket-seat swings, six regular swings, three climbing walls, slides, monkey bars and a sidewalk with surfaces that rock back and forth.

On Tuesday, Franklin and his 9-year-old brother, Theodore, frolicked on the play structure. Franklin sampled some of the activities on the panels, pounding on the drums and pointing at the blue spiral slide.

"I like it," Franklin said.

A ribbon-cutting for the playground is scheduled to be held in conjunction Hoover and Roosevelt Back To School Night on Sept. 24, provided that the railing is in place. For information on how to help, call 608-6170.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or

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