Able bodied and special needs children will be able to play alongside each other for the first time in Burleson, and perhaps anywhere in Johnson County and the immediate North Texas area.
"We hounded [Burleson parks director] Peter [Krause] for years to build a park for children of all abilities," Mayor Ken Shetter said.
Centennial Park, the first park designed to allow children of all abilities to play together, was officially opened Saturday under clear, bright skies.
"I know Peter worked hard on this," Shetter said.
The name of the park was selected with intention, according to Shetter, who credited the current and former City Councils with the achievement.
Centennial Park was appropriate, he said, considering this is the city's 100th year and the park is of a historic nature.
"When we built buildings that were inaccessible or sidewalks that were inaccessible, we were building walls," Shetter said. "This is one step we have taken [to tear down walls], but we've taken others."
City Councilmen Jerry Allen, Stuart Gillaspie and Larry Pool also attended the opening of the park. Also attending were members of the city's Rotary Clubs and Lions Club.
"It gives children of all abilities the opportunity to engage," Shetter said. "It's not enough to build one park accssible to all children."
Rotary Club president Bruce Anderson praised the effort, especially by parks manager Ike Vera, a Rotarian.
"He has worked very hard on this project," Anderson said.
Blake Kretz, president of Court Appointed Special Advocates for Johnson County, also noted his pleasure with the park, as did Town and Country Garden Club's Ann English, who joined Shetter and a special needs child in cutting the ribbon to officially open the park.
"[Centennial Park] gets a lot of use already, even though it is just now dedicated," said Tom Collett, involved in the city's 'Buddy Ball' program. "They just want to be able to play with their brothers, sisters and friends, just like the other kids do. I want everyone to promise you will be the difference in Burleson."
Centennial Park is located off McAlister Road at 1100 Scarlet Sage Pkwy. Total Recreation Products supplied the equipment for the park. Sales manager Randall Janak attended the park opening. The park was designed in-house, Shetter said, by Krause and his staff. Future expansion of the park will include a tree grove.