It has been 10 years since the creation of the Jackson Wildcat Habitat outdoor nature lab at Seymour-Jackson Elementary School.
To celebrate the anniversary, efforts are underway to make some upgrades to its walkway.
The crushed stone path, named Addie’s Walk, made it possible for students with special needs, especially those in wheelchairs or who had to use walkers, to enjoy the hundreds of trees, pond, grassy area and gardens that make up the habitat.
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Named after Addie Bryden, 4, a former Jackson special needs preschool student who died in May 2007, the walk has deteriorated to the point it’s too difficult for those in wheelchairs to access.
Bryden, the daughter of Bill and Lois Bryden of Seymour, was restricted to a wheelchair, and the original walkway was paid for with funds donated in her memory.
Retired Jackson teacher Peggy Stark and her husband, Steve, helped start the habitat with support from the school’s parent-teacher organization.
The school also has a Habitat Club made up of students who help maintain the area and promote it to the rest of the school and the community.
The habitat started as an empty field before but now contains more than 500 trees planted by students. It provides food, water and cover for wildlife and a place for animals to reproduce and raise their young, Peggy Stark said.
The Habitat Club has spent the past two years raising money to resurface the trail, but the money collected isn’t nearly enough to cover the $19,400 cost.
Karla Bohle, assistant principal at Jackson, recently requested the school board allow the school to pay $9,700, or half of the cost of the project, from its capital projects fund. The other half is being paid for by the Habitat Club and Jackson’s PTO.
Originally, the project was going to be divided into phases because of the expense, but Bohle said it was decided to approach it as a “matching funding” opportunity in try to get all the work done at once.
“We want to make the entire habitat accessible to all students and staff and community members,” she said.
The board approved the request.
All Star Paving in Seymour will complete the work, having submitted the lowest bid for the project.
The Habitat Club is planning a celebration for the habitat and walk when the 2016-17 school year begins this fall. Officials said they hope to have the newly paved asphalt walkway completed by then.