In about two months the Lake Tye Park playground will be open again after a renovation overhaul.
Old equipment will be leveled and recycled, then replaced with an inclusive jungle gym and play spaces with ADA-accessible features. Public officials broke ground at the site on Thursday, March 16.
Monroe Parks and Recreation Board member Karin Coppernoll has been pushing for more versatile facilities for much of the decade she has spent in the seat.
Her 17-year-old daughter has cerebral palsy, spending most of her time in a wheelchair. Coppernoll said the new playground will open up more social and physical opportunities for her daughter.
Coppernoll said her daughter will be able to spend more time with other children who live with and without disabilities. There are not many places in the community for people with disabilities to spend time with and meet other people. She said it will also help accustom people to those with disabilities; “rather than ‘the other,’ it’s ‘one of them,’ ” she said.
The new playground is being built with that concept in mind. The play spaces will “intentionally break down physical and social barriers to play,” and will have “advanced climbing challenges and motion activities that appeal to older children who seek a more adventurous play experience,” according to an agenda bill.
The 20-year-old playground was reaching the end of its life, had dated features and lacked inclusivity, according to the bill. In 2016, the city council authorized funding for nearly $317,550 for the project that had been planned for in the Parks Capital Improvement Project fund.
Roughly $300,000 was budgeted for the replacement in the parks department’s 2017 CIP fund, and about $20,000 was taken from the fund balance. Discounts for the playground equipment were around 24 percent of the listed price through U.S. Communities Nationwide Purchasing Cooperative that helps agencies purchase services and materials through a competitive bidding process.
Not every feature will be accessible for her daughter, but there will be some, Coppernoll said, including a swing she will be able to use, with help in and out of her wheelchair. The project is “a step in the right direction,” she said.
Monroe City Councilmember Jeff Rasmussen has a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old he and his wife regularly take to the playground and lake at the park, especially during the summer months. He said there will be more variety in the equipment they can try out.
A new rubber surface will cover part of the playground terrain, making the space playable year round, Rasmussen said. Right now, it can be difficult to play in the wood chips when the weather turns mucky, he said.
Monroe Parks and Recreation director Mike Farrell said the project has been in the works for a while. City staff, public officials and community members all contributed ideas on what components will go into the playground. Pointing to the enclosed platforms at the top of the slides, Farrell said sections like that will be replaced with pieces that parents can more easily see their children through.
Farrell said the new playground will also include a TriRunner, an inclusive feature similar to a spinning swing that can fit multiple riders at one time. It will be the first of its kind to be installed in Washington, he said. Everett-based Sitelines Park & Playground Equipment Inc. designed the new playground.