The playground at Bridgman’s Toth Street Park will receive a much needed
facelift, thanks to a $75,000 grant awarded from the American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation, upon
the recommendation from Indiana Michigan Power (I&M). The city is intentionally incorporating
universal design standards with accessibility in mind for a new, sizable single playscape to replace two
smaller, well-worn structures.
The catalyst for the entire project came from a group of local parents who frequent the playground with
their children. Bridgman residents Jodi Bodtke, Amanda Dryden, Danielle Grandholm, Sandra Ehlert,
Kella Koehler and Emily Nicka saw opportunities for improvement and approached City Hall with their
ideas. Their vision included updating the playground equipment, ensuring the playscape design was
accessible, and also creating space for parents to relax nearby as their children played.
“We have dreamed of updating Toth Park to better serve our community for over five years,” said Jodi
Bodtke, Bridgman resident and parent contributor. “It is so exciting and encouraging to see our
recommended changes come to life and we’re grateful for the people who have given their time, energy
and resources toward this project.”
Inclusive designs have been evolving since federal accessibility guidelines in the 1990s. More recently, a
bigger push by parents and advocates has amounted to an inclusive playground movement that allows
able-bodied kids to play right alongside kids who have physical challenges.
“Our family is hopeful these updates lead to an inclusive space that brings families together in new ways
that the park doesn’t currently allow.” added Bridgman resident and parent contributor, Danielle
I&M External Affairs Representative Mona Livingston presented the $75,000 check to the city at the
Bridgman City Council meeting on January 9. “Helping build an inclusive playground is a prime example
of the AEP Foundation’s and Indiana Michigan Power’s commitment to making brighter futures together
in the communities we serve,” said Livingston.
“This project is an opportunity to positively and directly affect the wellbeing of Bridgman’s smallest
residents and their parents by providing a joyful space designed with accessibility in mind,” added
Bridgman Mayor Jan Trapani. “We are grateful for the AEP Foundation’s generous support of this
important initiative in our community.”
Toth Street Park offers 7 acres and includes large green space, basketball courts, a fenced-in dog park, a
pavilion with bathrooms, a walking track, and cornhole boards.
“Our aim is for Toth Park to once again serve as a neighborhood and community gathering place that
attracts, enlivens and delights families,” said Juan Ganum, Bridgman city manager.
Bridgman Parks and Recreation Director Sara Ball expects the new playscape installation to begin this
summer/fall and anticipates completion by spring 2024.