January 31, 2009 in Washington Voices

Playground designers share park’s planned features

By The Spokesman-Review
 
EcoPlan & Design and Design Concepts photo

This is a concept drawing of what Discovery Playground would look like.
(Full-size photo)

Spokane Valley city officials plan to start construction this summer on a playground that promises sensory delights for everyone.

Discovery Playground, conceived as a “children’s universal playground,” won’t be limited to children. Parks Director Mike Stone is confident adults will enjoy it, too.

The Eastern Washington-themed playground will be packed with features that appeal to the senses, from the elk valley picnic plaza to the Palouse prairie rolling hills, from the wavy walk to the big horn sheep challenge.

The Spokane Valley City Council last week endorsed the preliminary design by EcoPlan and Design of Wenatchee and Design Concepts of Lafayette, Colo. Councilwoman Rose Dempsey called it “wonderful.”

Stone hopes to award a bid and begin construction in July, but the $1 million project may not be completed until the following spring.

The playground will take up three-fourths of an acre on a 2 1/2-acre site in front of the CenterPlace civic center in Mirabeau Point Park.

Here is the design consultants’ description of the playground features:

Sun gateway and basalt boulder play

This area is the main entry into the playground. Visitors will enter through a colorful signature gateway and cross a bridge over a dry streambed into the entry plaza. Seat walls, play boulders and shade are provided at this gathering area for use as people are arriving or leaving the playground:

•Signature gateway

•Bridge over dry creek bed

•Gathering plaza with seating

•Climbing boulders

Fossil maze

The maze path will have several nodes that reward visitors with the discovery of fossils from Eastern Washington:

•Herb garden

•Fossils in maze – leaf, petrified wood, insects, bones of vertebrate animals

•Benches

•Raised planting bed

Secret garden

The garden will be entered through a child-size gateway; adults may have to crouch to pass into the space. Once inside, people will encounter larger-than-life-size objects to explore. The looped wavy walk made from rolling concrete will engage people on wheelchairs and tricycles. There will also be simple sod areas for “passive recreation”:

•Wavy walk

•Bridge

•“Large objects”

•Vine tunnel

•Sensory plantings

Bighorn sheep challenge steps, double slide and sensory garden

Natural stone step courses will range from easy, shallow steps with handrails to steeper routes, to provide both fun and therapeutic challenges as people go up and down. The spaces beside the stone steps will be planted with rock garden plants:

•Gardens wrap around steps

•Variety of challenging steps

•Bighorn sheep stone sculpture

•Double slide

Palouse prairie rolling hills

Children can run, roll and smell the soil and sod on these sloped, grassy rolling areas:

•Rolling sod hills

•Adjacent native prairie grasses

Elk valley picnic plaza

The playground picnic area will provide shelters and seating to allow individuals or groups to gather for lunch or snacks; tables, benches, boulders will provide seating. Two permanent shelters will provide shade. A sandblasted sundial will allow children to tell time:

•Two shade shelters

•Eight picnic tables

•Basalt seating boulders

•Colored and sandblasted concrete

•Goldfinch sundial

•Sandblasted fossils

•Split rock

Eagle’s nest observation deck

This is a very active area of the park, located close to the picnic area. A ramp will take visitors up to a lookout point high above the playground. To get back down, take the slide, go back down the ramp, or clamber down the climbing wall. An art wall with the salmon life cycle will be on the wall that ramps up to the slide. A themed climbing wall will also be integrated. The “glacier rock” slide will be a stand-alone slide built between the “rocks.” Additional play pieces will also be in the play pit to engage people in climbing, spinning and swinging:

•Watershed origin, salmon wall

•Large slide

•Climbing wall

•“Glacier rock” slide

•Giant eagle’s nest sitting circle

•Swings

•Spinners

•Fish climbing sculpture

•Boulder seating

Steelhead trout river bed

The water splash play area will have various water features:

•Water play – basalt water sprays

•Trout sculptures and/or benches

•Water jumping jets

Outdoor classroom

This area provides an opportunity for groups to gather together in a quiet area.

Black bear den sand play with mammoth fossil find

This sand and water play area will be fenced and gated allowing for greater controlled access. A water pump will allow children to experiment with water and sand. The raised sand table will provide for wheelchair accessibility. The bear “den” provides an area for anyone wishing to find a quiet space:

•Bear “den”

•Mammoth and other fossils buried in sand

•Water spigot

•Raised sand table

Discovery pavers and hidden walk

Provides an opportunity for educational pavers to be discovered along a small pathway; benches provide seating.

Restroom

A restroom building will serve the playground with two toilet rooms.

Musical elements

Various musical instruments will be placed in four seating “nooks” in the park. A larger musical area will allow for larger groups to take part in the music.

Landscaping

The landscaping will showcase the flora of Eastern Washington and provide a variety of smells, textures and colors.


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