Dustin’s Adventureland proceeds with phase 2 of construction of an all-inclusive playground in Minersville

On Tuesday night, the Dustin’s Adventureland Board of Directors voted to build Phase 2 (equipment installation) of the all-inclusive playground project located in the beautiful Minersville Recreation Complex.

Although the board is still about $25,000 short of the goal, it was decided to schedule a groundbreaking date, construction dates, and unveiling events.
The board was recently advised that if construction did not proceed within 90 days, they would face a possible $48,000 increase on rubber surfacing and installation. This increase would be on top of an increase of more than 40% for fences. Both increases are due to inflation and rising fuel prices.
“It’s been a very long time coming and we’re more than excited to have dates set for everything to come to fruition,” Vice Chairman Jeffrey Dunkel said.
“Although we have not met the target, we are confident that we will be able to raise the remainder on time and, if necessary, myself and Chairman Jim Womer are committed to covering the expenses until money is raised. We couldn’t go to our supporters and ask to raise an additional $60,000 or more or defer this to next year, so we need to act now,” Dunkel added.

Jim Womer, president of Dustin’s Adventureland and owner of Womer Landscaping will install the playground with his workers at no cost to Dustin and said he “always wanted to build one of these facilities in Schuylkill County and stars aligned on this project and my vision with Dunkel’s and Amy’s, so it was meant to be.”

Amy Freed is the mother of Dustin Freed (the playground’s namesake) who helped lead the Special Needs Egg Hunt 4 years ago, where leftover funds from that event snowballed into an eventual swing disability and then turned into a half-million dollar project.

“Honestly, there are no words to describe the feeling I have about Dustin’s Adventureland’s upcoming build in August. Everyone has worked so hard for this and to know that this is finally becoming a reality, it’s really great! hours of event planning, working at events, board meetings and publicity that got us here. Plus the audience has been hugely supportive and Thank you!Finally, we will have a place where all children with disabilities and disabilities can go and interact with each other. It will also be a place where parents who have children with disabilities can meet and share stories. I think that’s the missing piece in this area. Now our community is going to be complete. It will also be a place where kids can learn about all the different types of disabilities that others may have. Dustin is always thrilled to see his name on posters, signs and shirts, but to see his face when it’s done will be priceless and the best feeling in the world. I’m just trying to figure it all out and enjoy every second of it,” Freed said of the upcoming release.

At present, the council plans to start on July 25 with preparatory work and the installation of larger equipment. Starting August 8, for about 2 weeks, the council will be looking for volunteers and part of the community to help with the construction. “Having seen many projects like this invite the community to get involved in building such an amazing and unique project, it gives the participants a sense of belonging and they will always remember the efforts made and also keep a eye on the facility.” said Womer. It is hoped that the rubber surface will be installed the week of August 22 and the area will then be cleaned and prepared for opening week events.
The board plans to host a Mixer event on August 31, a private party for donors, supporters and elected officials on September 1, and then a family event on Friday September 2 and Saturday September 3.
The Dustin’s Adventureland Board of Directors would like to thank everyone for all of their support, especially to Minersville Borough and its former and current board members, WJP Engineering, Recreation Resource, M&T Bank, Senator Argall and former state representative Neal Goodman.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I must especially thank our President and Playground Installer, Jim Womer, for his commitment to this project and for his company and family who have joined this project and made it possible for us to saved nearly $100,000 during phase 1. and 2 of this project. He went above and beyond to make this happen and sacrificed a lot to make this incredible dream a reality,” says Dunkel

Dunkel also thanked all previous and current board members who have contributed in any way to this project and fundraiser: “For a very small group of volunteers to be able to organize fundraisers and securing nearly $500,000 in grants and in-kind contributions during a pandemic to cover the first 2 phases is absolutely incredible and speaks volumes about the members and their determination to open this facility in Schuylkill County.”

If anyone still wants to donate to help Dustin’s Adventureland reach their goal, there are always sponsorships available, billboards, and engraved bricks and blocks. You can contact Dustin’s through their FB page or Jim at 570-640-4771 or Jeff at 570-527-6040.

Harold B. McConnell