Inclusive Playground Completed at City of Temecula Margarita Park
Carlsbad, CA design build playground equipment company, Pacific Play Systems, Inc. has completed installation of the new special needs inclusive playground and splash pad project for the City of Temecula’s Margarita Park. The park is now open to the public and is seeing a tremendous amount of use and support by the local residents as well as the surrounding communities. “People are coming from miles away with their beach towels and sun tan lotion, camping out for the day around the splash pad, while watching their kids play and enjoying all aspects of the park,” says Alex Bemanian, one of the project managers from Pacific Play Systems, working on this project.
Construction for the $1.4M special needs playground project started in the summer of 2014 and took approximately six months to complete. The funding for the construction portion of the splash pad was secured by grants sought by the city, which allowed both phases on the project to be completed at the same time without delays. The project was designed by Pacific Play Systems, using Playcraft commercial playground equipment and Rain Drop splash pad equipment. The playground equipment portion of the project was installed by Perpetual Parks and Playgrounds, while the splash pad portion of the project was installed by California Waters.
The grand opening ceremony for the park was attended by an overwhelming number of local residents, followed by speeches by various dignitaries, including Mayor Jeff Comerchero, City manager Aaron Adams and Councilman Mike Naggar who is well known to be a champion for providing awareness for the need to expand opportunities for children with special needs. In Naggar’s own thoughtful words, “The splash pad is very special. When you are “special needs”, one thing that is common with most kids in the spectrum is that they have a high sensitivity to water, meaning that they are fascinated by it, so it is very stimulating and comforting to them. The colors are very important as well as the tactile aspect of what they can do with their hands, touch and feel and move…all are very important.” The selection of the right mix of activities, colors and textures was a key element to the success of this project. Accordingly, the design team at Pacific Play met with the City several times and worked through several design revisions in order to achieve a final design that was ideal for the project.
The new park consists of two fully ramp accessible ADA playgrounds, one designed for children ages 5-8 and the other for the 5-12 age group. Additionally, there are several shaded picnic areas, benches, concrete seat walls, shower area, water play activities, water and sand play area, sensory garden and more. Councilman Naggar goes on to say, “This is more than just a place to come and just slide down the slide, this is an experience, and this is almost a whole body experience for those who have special needs. I’m elated, I can’t even take it all in.”
Inclusivity, ADA accessibility, site security and the ability to know the whereabouts of your children at all times are other important factors in designing parks for children with special needs. All play areas within the special needs playground at Margarita Park are ADA accessible and the entire site is surrounded by accessible sidewalks. There are also expansive areas of turf and landscaping to provide comfort for children and their families and provide opportunities to relax in the sun and take a break. For added security, the entire site is secured by a 5’ high fence with a single point of entry and exit in order to provide parents peace of mind while their children are at play.
Councilman Naggar continued by pointing out, “When you come in, you see an archway over the gate that says ‘Welcome to All Children of Temecula, Come Play, Come Soar….We Expect Great Things From You!’ And that’s our desire, to focus on ability and not disability. This is more than just a playground. This represents a community coming together, telling all of our children that we are not willing to accept that you have some condition or what we call special need or a disability, we expect you to overcome that and we are here to stand by you to do so.” He concluded by saying, “Somebody told me as the splash pad was going on, can you point out the kids with special needs? And, I said no, and they said that’s exactly the point, happy is happy, that’s inclusion and that’s exactly what we wanted to accomplish and it happened here today at the grand opening.”
The new special needs playground project and its splash pad in particular has turned out to be a huge success and a big asset for the community. “It was magnificent for those of us who were standing close by when they turned on the water. You heard a lot of squealing, a lot of laughs, just an awful lot of kids having a good time and that’s what it’s all about,” said Mayor Comerchero.