SteppingStones, Mylan Park envision new place for play

MORGANTOWN — Miracle Field has been a field of dreams in the heart of Mylan Park for SteppingStones athletes for more than 15 years.

Now Mylan Park and SteppingStones — a nonprofit organization that provides year-round recreation for children and adults with disabilities — have dreamed up something equally exciting for a bit of land just beyond Miracle Field’s leftfield fence.

“We’ve partnered with Mylan Park and they have graciously given us the ground adjacent to Miracle Field to build an inclusive playground. It’ll take over part of what is now the horseshoe pit and encompass the parking lot beside it,” SteppingStones Executive Director Monica Marietta said. “It’s going to be truly awesome. It’s going to be huge, completely accessible and inclusive.”

But it’s not going to be cheap for the entirely community-supported non-profit. Marietta estimates the cost of the project at $2 million.

SteppingStones and Mylan Park entered into a memorandum of understanding similar to the one that resulted in Miracle Field. SteppingStones will do the fundraising and grant writing for the project while Mylan Park provides the land, facility maintenance and will cover liability issues.

Just like Miracle Field, the playground will be owned by Mylan Park.

“We’re very supportive of the idea that Monica had to build an inclusive playground, which would serve a lot of the population that SteppingStones serves, but also serve everyone and be open to all members of the community,” Mylan Park General Manager Keith Hernstrom said.

“We’ve seen the need within the park for a playground for all our users. A place for parents and children to come and be at Mylan Park in an unorganized fashion for open recreation. Monica had the same idea and so the two parties came together.”

Along with the playground, the project will also include upgrades for Miracle Field, including new bleachers and a gated entrance.

SteppingStones has received support from a number of local businesses, Marietta said, noting the non-profit also has a close relationship with area Rotary clubs, with whom she’s working on a grant application for the playground project.

Marietta said getting the playground built and open to the public will take everyone pulling together — which is fitting.

“It’s not going to be just an accessible playground, it’s going to be an inclusive playground. It will have specialized equipment, but it won’t be a playground just for people with disabilities. It will be for everybody,” she said. “We want grandmas and grandpas to bring the kids out to play. We want people with and without disabilities to play. We want children and adults to play, and play together. Everybody plays. Play is something you can’t do wrong.”

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