JCPRD’s third inclusive playground will be the centerpiece of the next phase of development getting underway in November in Meadowbrook Park. Completion of this project is anticipated in late 2022.
Contractor Combes Construction of Bucyrus will break ground in early November with this new development, which is concentrated in the park’s northeast corner near the park entrance at Roe Avenue and Meadowbrook Parkway.
In addition to the inclusive playground, Phase 2 developments will include a picnic shelter, restroom, and off-street parking for 29 vehicles.
“This development will distribute park users more evenly across the park and provide an additional use area for picnics, comfort station use, playground users, and parking,” said Project Manager Jim Wilson. “The park already has an adventure play area, fitness play area, and sensory play area, and this will add an inclusive play area. The playground is approximately the same size as our other inclusive playgrounds, but will feature a specialty swing for individuals that use a wheelchair. The park restroom includes dimensions and specifications that are beyond ADA requirements.”
Inclusive playgrounds are designed to enable all children for play together without barriers. JCPRD’s two popular existing Inclusive playgrounds opened in 2018 in Stilwell Community Park and in 2019 in Shawnee Mission Park.
Even among other inclusive playgrounds, the one planned for Meadowbrook Park promises to be unique.
“The trend of designing playgrounds to equitably serve users of all abilities is still catching on, but even among the other JCPRD all-inclusive playgrounds, this one stands out in a few ways,” said Senior Landscape Architect Brian Sturm of Landworks Studio, a consultant on this project. “We spent three months selecting equipment for this playground. That timeframe afforded us the opportunity to consult twice with a focus group of Johnson County doctors, therapists, and counselors who work with special needs populations.”
The Meadowbrook playground was designed so that kids with profound mobility issues could still use nearly every piece of equipment.
“There's a large piece that includes play panels, a swaying barge, and a 3.5-foot-tall roller slide that is totally traversable by wheelchair,” Sturm said. “We have also included a wheelchair swing, a wheelchair-accessible merry-go-round, and turf moguls that you can wheel a wheelchair through. This playground was designed with a nature theme in mind, so all the colors of the equipment are yellows, greens, browns, or blue. The ground floor pattern resembles a river separating two different pieces of landscape, which feature ponds, wetlands, and grassy hilltops.”
Six play mounds with artificial turf between 2.5 and 4 feet tall will be incorporated into the new playground. Other play pieces not mentioned above include a cozy dome which is like a small, enclosed hut that kids can play under or climb over, and a rubber hammock on which kids can swing or surf.
“These play mounds offer users a different texture as well as a fun play experience climbing up and then rolling or sliding down,” Sturm explained.
Shade was another major consideration for this development.
“We designed the space to preserve numerous large oak trees on the margins,” Sturm said. “Even within the playground, all the large pieces of equipment have multiple shade structures built over them. We also have two large umbrellas that have water misters built into them. We also provided two picnic tables with umbrellas.”
Seating within the playground space will also be provided so that kids and parents who want to take a breather or eat a snack have a comfortable place to do so and still be near the action.
Development of the new area will impact park users to some degree.
“During construction the inbound trail traffic from Roe will be detoured along the north trail to Meadowbrook Hill,” Wilson said. “Trail traffic from the south will be detoured west around the construction site.”