Ambitious plans are underway with the goal of building a pirate-themed all-inclusive playground in Camden County's only recreational park.

Ambitious plans are underway with the goal of building a pirate-themed all-inclusive playground in Camden County’s only recreational park.

Last month, the Camden County Park Advisory Board unveiled preliminary designs and began initial volunteer outreach organization while also partnering with Unlimited Play, a St. Charles-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization that specializes in planning, designing, and building universally accessible playgrounds.

The park advisory board will be assisted by the Camden County Developmental Disabilities Resources and Unlimited Play to “ensure the success of the project,” according to a press release from the group, which states the project will take two to three years and require $300,000 worth of fundraising.

Although in the initial planning stages, the park has already garnered the support of the Camden County Commission and enthused citizens who view the current park as an asset and its future plans as community-changing.

“Inclusive playgrounds are specifically designed to remove physical and social barriers so ALL children, with and without disabilities and/or critical illnesses, can play side by side with their peers and families,” the release stated. “The playground’s pirate theme will celebrate Macks Creek and the playground will add tremendous value to Camden County as a whole.”

Animated design sketches for the eight-acre park in Macks Creek include display wheel-chair accessible pirate ships as well as various swing sets, slides, climbing walls and floor-level play areas are available on Unlimited Play’s website.

According to the non-profit, the planned playground joins four other projects currently in the works and lists $400,000 as the total fundraising sum for Pirate Park. That may seem lofty, but Unlimited Play — who partners with Little Tikes Commercial on these projects — has delivered on even pricier goals.

A total of 10 playgrounds, mostly in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas, ranging from $50,000 to $1-million, and various sums in between, have already been completed. 

Of the the five currently in the works, three have already raised at least 75-percent of the funds needed for parks ranging from $700,000 to $850,000. The remaining two are Macks Creek and Ponchatoula, Louisiana, both of which have been recently announced. This round of projects also include Unlimited Play’s first out-of-state endeavors with playgrounds nearly funded in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The Camden County Park Advisory Board meets next on December 7 and plans to host a ‘Christmas at the Park’ with candy, hot chocolate and a list from Santa Claus on December 9.

For more information from the Board on events and updates, follow “Pirate Park” on Facebook facebook.com/Pirate-Park-1037079936329405/ For more information, donation information and designs on Pirate Park from Unlimited Play visit unlimitedplay.org/playground/macks-creek-playground/

For questions about the playground and to find out how to get involved please contact Josh Phillips at jphillips@mail.mcreek.k12.mo.us or Jeanna Booth at jeanna@ccddr.org.

Park Background

Located off of Route N near the intersection of Hwy. 54, the government of Camden County took ownership over the grant-funded park when the former city of Macks Creek dissolved in 2012. Once a source of political conflict amongst Camden County commissioners and citizens, an ADA-accessible permanent bathroom was eventually agreed to and funded with finishing touches put on this past summer.

Initially estimated to cost approximately $17,000, the commissioners said in July that taxpayers ultimately only paid about $1,700 of the total cost of that project with a majority of the labor and material being donated by local volunteers and businesses.

The Commissioner’s Office had previously authorized the occasional spending of hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars out of its Passport Fund over previous years on park maintenance and landscaping, a broken pipe and damaged concrete slab, a temporary bathroom facility and a small gravel lot.