Donation makes Heart of the City Playground restrooms a reality

COOKEVILLE – The final piece of Dogwood Park’s Heart of the City Playground is almost in place – restroom facilities.

It’s the culmination of a community-build project that goes back to 2015, when playground committee members Kelly Swallows and Ashley Swann worked with Cookeville Leisure Services and a host of community donors and volunteers to make the 12,000-square-foot, all-inclusive, fully accessible playground a reality. They just turned over the remainder of the funds raised during that time that had been earmarked for the restrooms.

“We are so grateful to donate this money that is 100% from the community – $87,000 and some change – to go toward the restrooms and any other maintenance to the playground,” Swallows said.

Cookeville Leisure Services Director Rick Woods said he appreciates the many donors who contributed.

“The community involvement in the Heart of the City Playground has been amazing since the very beginning, and this donation is further evidence of the committee’s commitment to have a ‘full-service’ playground in Dogwood Park,” he said.

The new restroom facilities, being constructed just outside the playground fence, feature a pagoda-style roof that will provide an additional shady spot, two handicap accessible toilets, and siding and stone on the exterior that will match that of the concessions building and restroom facilities near the performance pavilion on the other side of Dogwood Park.

“This donation makes a huge difference for the family with young children playing at the Heart of the City Playground,” Woods said. “Previously, the nearest public restroom was too distant, and now it will be convenient for their quick access. With private funding, it also saves tax dollars that would have been used for construction.”

The Heart of the City Playground – designed so that all children, regardless of their ability or mobility level, could play together – attracts families from throughout the region. It features a soft, shock-absorbent surface, ramps for wheelchairs and walkers, bird’s nest swing, roller table, fully accessible merry-go-round and lots of other specialized play equipment.

Swallows and Swann are pleased to see how the project has come to fruition.

“Just seeing people out here on a pretty day makes me happy,” Swann said. “That’s what we built this for – for kids to have a place to come and play.”

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