More than a dozen members of the community offered feedback Tuesday about the proposed inclusive playground at Canyon Country Park, including some who said the play area’s design might accommodate children with disabilities more than creating a space for all kids.
Set inside the East Community Room at the park on Soledad Canyon Road, parents, health professionals and other residents had the opportunity to take a closer look at conceptual designs of the playground and speak one-on-one with city staff and developers.
The 8,500-square-foot playground, with a design and construction contract of $1.11 million with Utah-based Great Western Installations, will be the first of its kind in the Santa Clarita Valley and serve as a model for a larger version at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex.
The design currently includes structures with accessible connections to existing facilities, side slides with individual rollers for sensory play, ramps for children on wheelchairs and new seating areas for every visitor.
Tyler Kyriopoulos, principal partner and playologist with Great Western, heard firsthand some of the feedback attendees had to say. He stood by a table that included a list of features such as various styles of swings, drums for sensory play, ziplining and merry-go-round installations, where people placed stickers on the items they would like to see added to the playground.
A separate list was made up of comments from members of the community seeking additions to the design: sound amenities such as wheels that emit sounds, different styles and sizes of swings, a sand area, fencing around the playground and more seating for adults.
But some of the feedback that stood out to Kyriopoulos and other city staff was that the playground’s design appears to offer more to kids with disabilities, which might conflict with those who do not have special needs.
Liz Bunkell, a local physical therapist, and Dina Gittisarn, a child development specialist and parent of a child with special needs, said they would like to see a better balance.
“It’s hard to make it hybrid,” said Bunkell. “This is going to have a whole lot of inclusion but then you’ll have siblings and typical kids here plowing over the special needs things. We don’t want to segregate but if it’s a bigger facility or if things can be side-by-side that would help.”
Kyriopoulos said that’s the goal. “One of the key things that people don’t understand is that if you were to design just for children with special needs, that’s no longer a universal place. Our goal is to have enough balance, so we are here to listen to what everyone has to say.”
Angie Ashe, a mother of three children with disabilities and resident of Fair Oaks, said the proposed playground was “a long time coming but I’m very happy with the design.” She said she would like to see multiple wheelchair-accessible swings to offer more options than just the similar-style swing at Golden Valley Park.
City staff members said all comments will be reviewed and a future meeting with an updated design will be announced in the coming weeks.