BY CORIE LYNN
It has been a project two years in the making, but ground has finally broken on the ARC Park.
Standing for “Accessible Recreation Complex,” this park will establish an accessible park, splashpad and baseball field within Hays, serving the community and surrounding areas.
Kathy McAdoo, executive director of the Arc of the Central Plains, explained the idea for the park originated in a conversation between herself, current Arc Board President Sarah Meitner and Activities Director Brent Kaiser.
It was then that Meitner expressed a desire for an accessible park for her son to play at. The group also wanted to provide a baseball field for a local Special Olympics athlete.
“And it all came together in an accessible complex,” McAdoo said.
The recent groundbreaking is part of the first phase of construction, installing the playground itself. Once completed, the splashpad and then the baseball field will be added in phases two and three.
According to McAdoo, simply getting to this first phase has been a community-wide effort.
Fundraising efforts have come from every school in Hays and the Arc raised funds through a summer lemonade stand challenge. In addition, businesses across the community have tip jars that send donations to the park.
“[We have done] events from dine-out days to mail-outs to every home,” she said.
The Arc has also been awarded grants through the Heartland Community Foundation to purchase specialty equipment for the park.
According to Executive Director of the HCF, Sandy Jacobs, these grants are competitive ones for which any nonprofit organization can apply. However, she sees the park as playing an important role in providing an accessible area for Hays and the surrounding area.
“The ARC Park will provide an additional quality of life venue to our community,” she said. “It will provide activities for children of all abilities both from our community and from outside our community. As a destination point for those from outside Hays it will add to our economy as well.”
For McAdoo, this is one of the reasons why it is important to build the park in Hays. The town serves as a hub for northwest Kansas, an area that has yet to have a similarly accessible facility.
“[It will be open] to anyone and everyone to play together without any barriers,” she said.
Even as they move ahead with construction, the Arc is continuing to fundraise for the project. These efforts will include an online auction called the Festival of Trees and Holiday Market.
All items have been donated to the Arc, and, according to McAdoo, is “any decor geared toward Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
Bidding opens on Nov. 6 and closes Nov. 10 at 5 p.m.
More information about the auction as well as information about donations is available on the ARC Park website.
Though McAdoo sees that park and fundraising projects such as the auction as a community-wide effort, Jacobs acknowledges the dedication she and the board members have put into the project.
“The leadership of the ARC are to be congratulated for the success they have had in raising significant dollars to ensure this park becomes a reality,” she said. “The community should congratulate Sarah Meitner, Kathy McAdoo and Brent Kaiser for their commitment and dedication to this project.”