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'Playground for All' at Chestnut Ridge opens; Erie County to add 5 more

The playground includes everything from a sensory walk for children, to swings, spinners and seesaws, which were adapted to provide a better experience for kids.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It's only opening day, but Erie County's new "Playground for All" is already proving to be a blast for kids. 

"We've been waiting for weeks for it to open up. We were waiting here for the ribbon to open up and my daughter was screaming in the car because she wanted to go in so bad," said Maggie Postula, who brought her daughter to the park. 

Postula and her daughter, Lainey Evans, live in Hamburg but drive out to Chestnut Ridge Park everyday.

While Evans doesn't have a disability, Postula's 3-year-old son, Liam, has autism. Now she plans to bring him to this more inclusive park, especially since it's way better than the old one Postula grew up with at Chestnut Ridge.

"(The old one had) seen better days, but this (new) playground? Wow," Postula said. 

It's the reaction tons of parents are having, according to Frank Cammarata with the Erie County Office for People with Disabilities. 

"Number one reason is this is a park for everyone," Cammarata said. 

The "Playground for All" includes everything from a sensory walk for children, to swings, spinners and seesaws, which were adapted to provide a better experience for those with disabilities.

The surface of the playground is also made of rubber instead of woodchips, making it easier to move wheelchairs around.  

The Chestnut Ridge Conservancy brought the idea to the county in 2015, but it didn't break ground until July. 

It took awhile between planning and getting the funding for the $625,000 playground, which is much more expensive than a typical park you might see. 

"It's a lot more expensive, unfortunately, because of the design and because of the equipment. It's not just a metal slide, it's not just a metal swing anymore, but this is equipment designed for a person with a disability," Cammarata said. 

There's plenty more where that came from. Erie County has budgeted $2.1 million to add five more inclusive playgrounds within the next couple of years. They will be at Como Lake, Emery, Ellicott Creek, Akron Falls, and there will be another one at Chestnut Ridge. 

The one that opened at Chestnut Ridge on Friday will remain the biggest of them all.