Washington County will be replacing a playground on Maintenance Hill Road in Mingo Creek County Park, making it accessible to people in wheelchairs and with a feature for the autistic, too.

“It’s something we need, and I think it will be well-received,” said Lisa Cessna, executive director of the Washington County Planning Commission, which oversees parks.

“We’ll get that ordered now for construction in the spring.”

The playground equipment costing $356,687 will be purchased through a state contract and paid for from the proceeds of oil and natural gas extracted from beneath the park.

The centerpiece will be a replica pirate ship surrounded by blue rubber to mimic the sea.

While not exclusively for those with disabilities, the play area will have ramps instead of stairs.

While a rock-climbing wall will remain, a geodesic dome will not. There will still be a swing set, but a “mommy and me” swing will be added. A playground spinner known as a merry-go-round will be close enough to ground level that a wheelchair can roll onto it.

“This is designed for people of all abilities, not just disabilities,” Cessna said, a feature that’s not part of playground equipment manufactured many years ago.

There will also be a refuge –known as a “Cozy Cocoon” – for those with autism spectrum disorder who may prefer to escape the hubbub of a busy playground.

In a related matter, the commissioners voted to enter into an agreement with the Student Conservation Association for a program through the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corp. and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to have a group complete trail work in Mingo park at a cost of $2,000, also to be paid from the park’s natural gas lease.

The board also accepted the donation of two used Honda all-terrain “quad” vehicles from EQT Corp., Pittsburgh, to be used by the sheriff’s department in performing security duties at the parks.

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