The Village of Pinecrest embarked on a journey, a dream project in December 2002, with the citizen-led decision to purchase the historic Parrot Jungle site. Today, 18 years later, the dream to create a magnificent botanical park has blossomed into reality—annually drawing more than 180,000 visitors. The village is full steam ahead on continuing to restore and improve the site for all citizens, regardless of ability.
In late 2018 Pinecrest Gardens was awarded two six-figure grants totaling $450,000. The first, a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) award of $200,000, will support the restoration and upgrade to full ADA compliance of the meandering paths throughout most of the park. Once completed, visitors who rely on wheelchairs for mobility will be able to travel on every path at Pinecrest Gardens.
A second award made through the Florida Land and Recreation program, will invest $250,000 to enhance recreational and educational opportunities for children of all abilities.
It will allow for the creation of a new, all-inclusive playground with a special toddler play space, and industry leading poured in place, environmentally friendly ground cover.
Rounding out the project, there will be new ADA accessible restrooms; modern, accessible picnic areas and seating; all-access update to the petting zoo; lighting and landscaping upgrades; and new wheelchair friendly nature trails.
This grant is also assisting with the creation of a new Sensory and Learning Garden which features hands-on gardening tools designed for individuals of all abilities. Tools for arthritic hands, multi-level planters for individuals who rely on wheelchairs or cannot bend, as well as a full range of sensory features for children and adults on the autism spectrum will be available in the designated area that provides a safe, scaled environment to keep the focus on fun, friends, and learning.
In Pursuit of Inspiration—Building Pinecrest Gardens’ first dedicated classroom is also part of the Upper Garden Project. This small, stand-alone building will be called the Inspiration Center, adjacent to the Sensory and Learning Garden. This will provide much needed climate control for children on the autism spectrum who are very sensitive to temperature extremes.
Construction on these projects will commence late this year. These beautiful and “inclusive” amenities will support our pursuit of providing fully accessible facilities and programs at Pinecrest Gardens. In early 2018, the village added a wheelchair lift at Pinecrest Gardens giving full access to areas of limited access for people with physical disabilities. The Gardens also continues to feature at least one “sensory-friendly” performance for all of our children’s theater productions. In hopes of continuing this vision, the full 13+ acre Pinecrest Gardens site, following completion of this project, will be accessible to children and adults of all abilities, who want to visit, enjoy, laugh, learn and play.