By Stan Sherer
Settled in 1846 by the grandson of Daniel Boone, Wilsonville, Ore., is located on the Willamette River 18 miles south of Portland. Originally a farming community with a bustling ferry service, the city was incorporated in 1968; although it is now home to several high-tech companies, many surrounding historic farms still remain active.
Murase Plaza is part of the 126-acre Wilsonville Memorial Park, the largest and oldest in the city. A recent playground renovation began with the demolition of most of the existing equipment. An existing dome climber and swing structure were salvaged, while concrete sidewalks were added for better wheelchair access, and an adjacent hill was contoured and steepened to receive an embankment slide.
By The Numbers
The farm-themed playground is adjacent to the 114-year old Stein Homestead barn. The new playground was designed to reflect the agricultural heritage of the area.
Created to provide a wide range of active- and passive-play activities for children of all ages and abilities, the red barn and silo structure includes a ground-level corral and has a 3,100-square-foot use zone. The wheelchair-accessible cattle-ranch play complex has a similar-sized zone. To address the needs of all children, the two structures provide 40 accessible play components. In addition to the eight slide chutes featured on the play structures, a 28-foot-long embankment slide provides access to the play area from an adjacent hilltop.
The new playground structures are made of eco-friendly, 100-percent post-consumer recycled plastic posts and beams, chosen for their durability and child-friendly temperature non-conductivity.
Total cost to the city for this project was $252,000. Demolition and removal of outdated, high-maintenance play equipment was $35,000. New surfacing cost $12,000, and the purchase and installation of the new playground equipment totaled $205,000.
After the park was opened, it was noted that wheelchair access could be expanded by rearranging a couple of the “cattle ranch” components. The park department also determined that, to increase playability, the hill-contour angle supporting the embankment slide should be steepened. The contractor was recalled, and these changes were quickly accomplished.
According to park department observers, both children and their parents have reacted positively to the new playground equipment. Upon entering the space, kids are both excited and overwhelmed by the selection of activities provided. After trying many of the play opportunities, they will usually prioritize their favorites and then return to them regularly. In addition to enjoying watching their children at play, parents are delighted to learn that much of the new playground’s structural material is made from plastic milk jugs that have been recycled at the curb. Many are pleased that caring for the environment has helped to provide valuable construction materials for the new playground.
This playground would have been built sooner if funds were available. The previous equipment was a safety and maintenance nightmare. So, given the chance—don’t wait any longer than necessary to start a project. Unlike the previous playground, the new equipment was chosen with the needs of players of all ages and abilities foremost in mind. In creating this new play space for both childhood enjoyment and accessibility, federal standards for wheelchair access were exceeded. Children and parents of our community were given a great fun-filled amenity. Combining creative designs with maximum functionality in a playground leads to a successful park.
Stan Sherer is the Director of the Wilsonville Parks and Recreation Department in Wilsonville, Ore. Reach him at (503) 570-1579, or firstname.lastname@example.org.