April 16, 2014

For More Information, Contact: Christine Stavem, (408) 299-5050 or [email protected]   COUNTY PROVIDES FINAL FUNDING FOR PALO ALTO’S MAGICAL BRIDGE PLAYGROUND SAN JOSE –  Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian announced today County support for the final $150,000 in funding necessary for the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto. The appropriation was unanimously approved by his Board of Supervisor colleagues on Tuesday; and completes the final piece of the funding puzzle for this playground for children with disabilities.   “To say it’s anything but heartwarming to provide the final $150,000 necessary to break ground on the Magical Bridge Playground would be an understatement,” said Simitian. “I’m so pleased that our County could provide even a modest contribution toward this worthy project.”   The Magical Bridge Playground, to be located in Palo Alto’s Mitchell Park, is specifically designed to accommodate the needs of children with disabilities, a regional population not well served by existing play facilities. This project has a budget of $2.8 million and only needed an additional $150,000 to be fully funded with groundbreaking possible as soon as June 2014.   Olenka Villarreal, the parent whose own frustration over not being able to find appropriate play opportunities for her child gave rise to the vision for Magical Bridge Playground, summed up her journey in this way, “Supervisor Simitian was one of the first people I reached out to when I had the vision for Magical Bridge Playground, so it’s fitting that he should play a key role in the successful close of our fundraising effort.”   The Magical Bridge Playground is specifically designed to be accessible to children with either physical or cognitive disabilities. This is of particular importance given that about 90% of children with disabilities have cognitive, developmental or sensory challenges, not necessarily a physical disability. The various play zones included in the design will ensure appropriate play opportunities for children of all abilities.   In the past, similar funding was provided by the County for a project co-sponsored by the City of San Jose and the San Jose Rotary. Like the Rotary Playground, the Magical Bridge Playground received substantial support from the host city, but because of its regional significance looked to the County to make a contribution as well. The City of Palo Alto designated 1.28 acres of land within Mitchell Park for the construction of the Magical Bridge Playground, and followed up with a grant of $300,000. In addition, more than $2.3 million has been raised from a variety of private philanthropic sources.   Palo Alto City Manager James Keene summed it up this way, “There’s a lot to love about this project. I’m pleased that the County saw the value of partnering with the City to provide a unique facility of regional value.”   Simitian added, “As budgets get tighter, these partnerships can make all the difference between a good idea that sits on the shelf and one that gets a ribbon cutting.”   ###

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