Saturday, May 18, 2024

Proposed Osborn Playground redesign prioritizes inclusivity and accessibility

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LEAVENWORTH – The Osborn Playground Replacement project is inching closer to ordering equipment for possible construction in early fall, according to an update given at the City Council Study Session on Feb. 27.

Parks Supervisor John Schons presented a design proposal that the Neighborhood Playground Committee has been working on since July 2023. 

“Our goal was to redesign a new playground for the Osborn property, and our goal was also to have it fully accessible and inclusive for all levels,” said Shons.

In order to make the park more conducive to mobility devices, the committee made an intentional choice to use poured-in-place rubber surfacing over wood chips, and include inclusive play equipment.

In addition to the inclusive play equipment, the proposed redesign includes what the committee considers must-haves. It has one structure specifically designed for children ages two to five years old, and a secondary structure for children between the ages of five and twelve years old. 

Adjacent to the structures is a swing set, which includes a large, “satellite dish” swing that can support multiple kids, a toddler bucket seat, and a “mommy-and-me” swing that allows adults to swing with their small children. The committee will add three more pieces of equipment to the playground, based on the feedback received from a community survey completed on Feb. 29.

The playground will be surrounded by a track for kids to bike around on strider-bikes, or for adults to take laps around while their children play. For adults looking for more exercise, there will be an area with equipment next to the playground. 

“If you've got grandkids, or great grandkids you may be taking down, or your own kids, just to be out with fresh air, it gives you something to do, and it's something that is healthy and will help you,” said Council Member Sharon Waters, who serves on the committee.

The committee sent out about 15 emails to physical therapists, occupational therapists, and personal trainers regarding the equipment choices.

“We asked them to prioritize the equipment in order of most useful, the least useful, and then any other things that we may not be thinking about, and they gave us some great feedback,” said Shons.

With its current design, the park will receive accreditation from PlayCore, a playground equipment company, as a National Demonstration Site (NDS). Accreditation is allotted when playgrounds meet best practice standards, such as inclusive play, youth physical activity, and adult outdoor fitness. 

“The playground that we're proposing is the gold standard. It's a really huge community asset, and it gives space and resources for healthy lifestyles for all ages and abilities,” said Deputy Public Works Director Andi Zonteck-Backstrum.

The NDS Network maps out these playgrounds across the United States, allowing parents to seek out accessible play areas for children with disabilities. This map could help potential visitors make the decision to come to Leavenworth, or at least utilize it during their visit. In having this, the playground is able to access funding from the lodging tax, instead of solely the general fund.

It was unclear how this may affect parking in the area, which was a concern for some council members. However, the lodging tax funding may be a key factor in funding the $1.1 million dollar project. Currently, $566,000 in federal funding has been allocated to the project, covering half of the costs. The committee is under timeline pressure, as the funding must be used this year, or the city risks losing it.

After finalizing the design with the community’s feedback, the committee will return to the City Council sometime in March for funding. The committee is hopeful it will receive the funding and place an order prior to April, allowing enough time to complete the project before the end of the year. 

Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or taylor@ward.media

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