A Highland park could be getting a new playground that will help to facilitate play for all.
For the past several months, Director of Parks and Recreation Mark Rosen has been working with representatives from All-Inclusive Rec and Unlimited Play Playgrounds to develop a plan for a play area to accommodate the special needs of disabled children.
Rosen said that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that a certain percentage of playground equipment must be accessible for all children, but the new playground would take it to a new level.
A concept design shows an aerial view of the park format, which Rosen said was designed to encourage intermingling amongst all children.
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“Everybody will be together interacting and passing by each other and doing a lot of the same things together,” Rosen said.
The playground itself has a square design, and each feature is connected by a wheelchair-accessible ramp. Rosen said each facet of the equipment was designed with a different disability in mind — from checkered floor patterns used to alert vision-impaired children they are entering the swing area, to a metal roller slide specifically designed so children with hearing implants can safely ride down slides without having the threat of static electricity.
Among some of the other park features is a seated zip line, a merry-go-round, and teeter-totter that are all accessible by kids in wheelchairs. The playground is also fenced, so parents can give extra attention special needs children while knowing their other kids are safe within the area.
“It’s well thought out and well planned. The logic behind it is all encompassing, really,” Rosen said.
Rosen said that having the playground on Veterans Honor Parkway also helps to support the second meaning the special equipment. He said it gives disabled parents and injured veterans a chance to experience play with their child as well, instead of having to watch from the sidelines.
But the the playground will not come cheap. All in all, Rosen said the proposed design could cost the city around $250,000.
However, the planning is still in very preliminary stages.
Rosen said two representatives from the playground companies will present a more detailed plan during the Highland City Council meeting Nov. 20.
“We would like people with special needs kids to attend the meeting and listen,” Rosen said.
Rosen also said that the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission may be looking to form a playground committee made up of parents and citizens from the general public.
“This is just the start of the whole process. We will be relying on a lot of help,” Rosen said.