SIDNEY - The playground at Legion Park in Sidney was closed Monday while equipment was removed and dirt work began on a new accessible and inclusive playground. 

"We are beyond grateful to start and complete this project," the Sidney Park Project said in a statement Monday morning. "Completion of this project will benefit so many people in the community and send a message that we can do big things."

The park project committee will hold a ground breaking ceremony at 4 p.m. Monday at Legion Park. All are welcome to attend. 

In the next six to eight weeks, Sidney will have a new accessible and inclusive playground at Legion Park.

“We investigated what all the needs would be if someone was in a wheelchair, if someone needed help with their balance, and other things like that,” Park Project President Madi Wilkinson said. “We had a lot of great health care providers, community members, and teachers give us a lot of feedback about what a new, safe playground would look like. We took all those needs to design and we’re happy to bring this to Sidney.”  

Wilkinson says the new playground will be the only one of its kind in the Nebraska Panhandle and includes rubber surfacing, cement walking paths, equipment with ramps and different types of merry-go-rounds. 

Weather permitting, the initial dirt work and removal of the old equipment will take one to two weeks. That will be followed by the installation and build of the new equipment, which, according to the Sidney Park Project, will "create a safe space with playground equipment and ground surfaces allowing all abilities and ages to come together to foster community and play."

The Sidney Park Project committee announced on March 11 they reached their fundraising goal of $711,000. The funds were raised through private donations, grants and fundraising events. No city tax dollars were used for the project. 

Any additional money raised will go towards adding cement slabs for handicap parking on the south side of the playground. Donations are still being accepted at sidneyparkproject.com.

The original playground equipment is city property and will go to auction at a later date if it is deemed usable again.

This is a developing story. Stay with News Channel Nebraska for the latest.