In 2021, Bennett’s Village, Inc. received 501(c)(3) status. Charlottesville City Council has agreed to enter into a partnership with Bennett’s Village, Inc., designating Pen Park as the future site of an all-abilities play space. The play space will cover three acres and will eventually include fully-accessible play structures, a tree house, a sensory garden, a cableway, a water play area, a restroom pavilion, and native landscaping.
During the fall/winter of 2018-2019, Bennett’s Village, Inc. met with public officials to find a site for Bennett’s Village Play Space. Thanks to all your hard work and advocacy, in 2019 the Charlottesville City Council voted to move forward with a partnership with Bennett’s Village Inc. and to designate Pen Park, a regional park, as a site for the future home of Bennett’s Village Play Space. In the summer and fall of 2019, we sought community feedback regarding a concept design for the playground. We hired the award-winning Mahan Rykiel Associates to create concept designs for Bennett’s Village Play Space. Their designs won two awards from the Maryland and Potomac chapters of the American Society of Landscape Architects in the “Design Unbuilt” category.
In summer 2022, we installed a communication board at Pen Park—the first of its kind in a Charlottesville City Park. Recreational spaces are ideal locations to encourage and facilitate communication for those with complex communication needs. A non-verbal child or adult can use the board to communicate feelings, preferences, and desires with friends, family members, or companions.
We are delighted to announce our plans for Phase one of our project: an accessible treehouse! The Treehouse is part of the concept plan developed by Mahan Rykiel and will be the very first portion of the plan to be developed and installed. Bennett’s Village, Inc. has received input and guidance from Charlottesville City Parks & Recreation, the City Engineer, and City Planners regarding the Treehouse requirements. We have hired Challenge Access, internationally renowned treehouse designers and builders, who will put their creativity and construction know-how to use in order to create a one-of-a-kind structure that is accessible and functional and fits with the existing topography. Our goal for this portion of the project is not only to give the community a treehouse for all to use but also to give people an idea of the amazing scale and intent of the future play space.
What can you do to make this treehouse a reality? We are fundraising to pay for design plans and construction. If you would like to donate to the Treehouse project (or the overall project), you can do so through our donation page. We are also offering sponsorships, which include several benefits depending on the level of giving. If you are interested in sponsoring the Treehouse in whole or part, contact us directly at email@example.com.
As we get closer to breaking ground on Phase One, we have been working with the City of Charlottesville to map out what future phases will look like so that the play space can remain open as we construct new sections. Over the course of the next few months, we’ll describe in more detail our vision for future phases.