A park intended to accommodate children of all physical and cognitive abilities is expected to open in south Glendale in May, following a unanimous decision by City Council members earlier this month to advance the project.
Set to begin construction in March, the castle-themed project in Maple Park will feature all-inclusive slides, swings, a see-saw and sensory areas to allow children with and without disabilities to play together, according to a staff report.
“The education of it all — the acceptance, the tolerance, the compassion — that children learn [from it], [for that] I think it’s worth putting in a special park like this,” Councilwoman Paula Devine said during a council meeting on Dec 11.
The park, conceptually designed by Shane’s Inspiration, is also intended to be intergenerational, to give children and older caretakers — such as grandparents — shared access to the equipment, according to Onnig Bulanikian, the city’s parks director.
Shane’s Inspiration is a California-based nonprofit organization that creates accessible playgrounds and supports inclusive play through projects in the United States and abroad.
The new equipment’s total cost, including design, development, construction and project management, will be roughly $825,000, Bulanikian said.
The new construction will expand the current play area at Maple Park, located at 820 E. Maple St., to 8,140 square feet, up from about 5,000, he added.
The custom-made play structure will replace existing 18-year-old equipment.
Two of Glendale’s newest parks, Carr and Nibley, had a joint price tag of about $865,000, spanning a combined 9,000 square feet, Bulanikian said.
The square footage of the planned Maple Park equipment roughly equals Nibley and Carr combined, but Councilman Vartan Gharpetian pointed out that the non-all-inclusive parks have 50 to 60 play structures each, while the forthcoming playground has only 30 to 40.
“This has to do with us being responsible for our tax dollars,” Gharpetian said before voting for the project. “If this [park] has enough play equipment for all children to come in and enjoy, by all means, but … I want us to build something that is efficient and usable, and isn’t just ramps.”
Perusing other inclusive parks at Griffith Park and in North Hollywood, Gharpetian said he was disappointed with the play equipment, and feared a similar design in Glendale wouldn’t draw repeat visits from the children it is meant to support.
According to Bulanikian, several items increased the cost of Maple Park relative to the other parks, including an increased footprint and more expensive rubberized ground surface.
Telling Gharpetian he was “putting on his parent hat,” Bulanikian said he was “sure this playground will be heavily used.”
As Gharpetian pointed out, south Glendale is densely populated and “they don’t have a backyard — this is their backyard.”
The project’s conception dates back to at least March 2016, when the council approved a plan to use development-impact funds to construct an all-inclusive park.
During the meeting, council members authorized Landscape Structures Inc., or LSI, based in Delano, Minn., to provide and install the playground equipment for approximately $700,000, bypassing the city’s usual open-bid system.
City officials were able to secure a lower price by pursuing the contract through a national purchasing program to which the city belongs, according to the staff report.