Just a few weeks ago, the Magical Bridge Foundation thought it would have to make a difficult decision about its all-inclusive playground in Santa Clara’s Central Park. The nonprofit had not received the needed funding for its plans and something had to be cut.
Then, out of the blue, came a line item in the state budget approved on June 29, $800,000 designated for Santa Clara’s Magical Bridge playground.
“I actually thought it was a SPAM message when I got it first, like what is this? Why don’t we know about it?” said Magical Bridge Foundation Founder and CEO Olenka Villarreal. “I guess they have someone in Sacramento that helps them and it is confirmed and very exciting.”
Once Villarreal got over the shock, she thought of all the things it would mean the foundation could add to Central Park.
“We are super excited I think what really allows us to do is to do some additions that were sort of on the wish list, which include extra security cameras and some special gates,” said Villarreal. “All the things that we had as alternatives in case we got the funds now can be added back into the design and then you’re going to have an extra, extra Magical Bridge playground for Santa Clara, which is very exciting.”
The surprise funding came thanks to work behind the scenes by Santa Clara staff and Assembly Member Alex Lee’s office.
“The City consistently advocates for support of our local initiatives at the county, state, and federal levels,” said Santa Clara’s Director of Parks and Recreation James Teixeira. “The playground project is a collaboration among various public agencies and private contributors—City, County, Magical Bridge, community members, and now State.
“The goal is to provide as many inclusive play experiences as possible, and this funding will help us do that,” continued Teixeira. “Given the recent pandemic impacts on the economy and construction cost inflation, Assembly Member Lee wanted to ensure that we have sufficient funding to include all of the community-desired, research-based, developmentally appropriate, inclusive play elements, including the alternates illustrated in the schematic design.”
Lee says he was happy to help.
“It’s important that people of all abilities have a place they can play, explore and make friends,” said Lee. “I’m excited for Santa Clara residents and grateful they had the vision to get the ball rolling.”
The Magical Bridge Foundation plans to start the bidding process in the coming weeks and expects to have a contractor for the playground by the fall. Groundbreaking should happen sometime this winter.
Until then, locals can enjoy the all-inclusive playground Magical Bridge Foundation completed at Fair Oaks Park in Sunnyvale in May.