Plans for sensory garden in San Clemente move forward

OC Register May 22, 2014 by Fred Swegles

City leaders hire contractor to build the $439,579 structure as the final touch to Courtney’s SandCastle.

Courtney Smith, 17, and Sharla Pitzen of Courtney’s SandCastle Charitable Foundation present San Clemente with $50,000 to help complete funding to add a sensory garden to the Courtney’s SandCastle universal-access playground.

Courtney Smith, 17, and Sharla Pitzen of Courtney’s SandCastle Charitable Foundation present San Clemente with $50,000 to help complete funding to add a sensory garden to the Courtney’s SandCastle universal-access playground.

San Clemente’s Courtney Smith was 4 years old in 2001 when adults in her life set out to find a way to build south Orange County’s first universal-access playground in her name.

On Tuesday night, the now-17-year-old, who has spinal muscular atrophy, was all smiles as San Clemente’s elected leaders hired a contractor to build a $439,579 sensory garden as the final touch to Courtney’s SandCastle, a playground that opened in 2012 at Vista Hermosa Sports Park.

“This has been a very long journey for all of us,” Smith said.

The City Council accepted a $50,000 donation from the Courtney’s SandCastle Charitable Foundation to help close a $113,000 funding gap. Taylor Morrison, new owner of San Clemente’s Marblehead Coastal residential development, donated $70,000 to close the gap completely, the city said.

Earlier, the foundation raised $340,000 toward the sensory garden, which will include a path, shade structure, tidal pool, interactive granite water sphere and music panels.

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