Benedict Park playground closer to meeting accessibility goals

Donations from community solar company, Lightstar Renewables, will help make play possible for more kids

Montgomery, NY, Feb. 13, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- More children and caregivers with disabilities in Orange County will soon be able to play on Benedict Park playground. This is due to the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan and the Town of Montgomery’s efforts to add an inclusive, fully accessible, and universally designed playground to the existing Benedict Park Playground. The addition will include a smooth rubberized surface that is easier to maneuver, shaded areas, a large, low-to-the-ground play structure, an inclusive whirl built into the ground, communication boards, new fencing to reduce the risk of elopement, and a multitude of adaptive swings that allow the inclusion of both children and caregivers with disabilities.

For children and caregivers with disabilities in Orange County, many playgrounds present barriers that limit their full access to the play space. During the October 6, 2022, Town Board meeting, Ms. Kaitlin Rickerd, a pediatric therapist, explained the need for handicap-accessible playgrounds. Ms. Rickerd’s goal, with the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan, is to raise $100,000 for the construction of the playground. Lightstar Renewables and their project development team donated $11,000 to the initiative, bringing the children of Orange County closer to enjoying a playground that has features everyone can use. 

A core part of Lightstar’s mission is ensuring that everyone can access the outdoors and participate fully in our communities.  Lightstar is a solar energy company focused on community solar and agrivoltaics. They work with farmers across the United States to realize local clean energy projects - including those that allow for farming and solar on the same piece of land. As a community-focused organization, Lightstar takes a holistic approach to support the communities in which it operates. 

The company is currently designing a project in the Town of Montgomery, which will bring locally-produced energy to residents within the region. Lightstar learned of the town’s need for an accessible playground upon their research for viable land for a community solar farm in the county and knew a donation would further the company’s positive impact on the community.

Brian Maher, State Representative shared: “Play is an integral factor for every child in their cognitive and social development. Ensuring a playground is accessible for all should be a basic requirement in today’s world. Community support is essential in developing an inclusive play area for kids of Orange County and we are thankful to Lightstar Renewables for taking us a step closer to achieving our accessibility goals. As a former Town of Montgomery Supervisor, I was proud to see our Town Board commit to working together to make this project a reality one day.  As a member of the Assembly, I will continue to support this project by bringing more private partnerships to the table so that the town can afford to make this investment within its budget.  Together we will make this project happen one day.”

Lucy Bullock-Sieger, Lightstar’s Vice President of Strategy shared: “We’re excited to jump-start the efforts for Cultivate Montgomery to bring a universally accessible playground to the community. Lightstar Renewables is grateful for the opportunity to create more opportunities for everyone, no matter their disability, to enjoy the outdoors. Everyone deserves to play and this project will only strengthen Montgomery’s already tight-knit community.”

Fundraising for this important community amenity - which will increase play places for children with disabilities in Montgomery - is ongoing, and the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan is accepting donations here.

About Lightstar

Lightstar is a community solar developer and long-term owner with a pipeline of over 800 megawatts (MWs) of community solar farms in the US. Founded by a seasoned team of solar developers, their mission is to be good stewards of the land and the community that they serve. They are focused on leading in community solar development that is built with environmental, social,  and agricultural needs at the forefront, which, in their mind, is a key next phase of the clean energy transition.


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