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Portland Parks & Recreation

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1120 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

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Gabriel Park playground to become PP&R's newest inclusive play area

POSTED JUNE 11, 2018  

(Portland, OR) –

Gabriel Park playground to become Portland Parks & Recreation’s newest inclusive play area

City of Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Portland Parks & Recreation announce that Gabriel Park (SW Vermont Street and 45th Avenue) will be the site of the next inclusive playground in the PP&R system. The new playground will become a “destination” site, with a footprint of 10,000 square feet, up from 3,250 square feet. Inclusive playgrounds provide a rich play experience, addressing physical, sensory, and social needs of all children and their caregivers, and are designed with universal accessibility in mind, accommodating everyone and challenging them at their own developmental level. 

The project is anticipated to include the new inclusive playground as well as pathway and parking improvements. Portland Parks & Recreation expects the play area to be completed in late 2020, after a public involvement process for the design this fall and winter—including robust outreach to community members who are experiencing disabilities. 

“Inclusive play allows children of all abilities to enjoy our parks,” says Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “Gabriel Park is a regional park that includes parking and public transportation options so that children and families of all abilities are able to access the playground features. This project will create a greater number of inclusive playground elements, more space to play, and a fun environment that meets a wider range of needs and abilities. I’m looking forward to seeing more children enjoying our parks as a result of the innovative vision for this project.” 

Funding for Gabriel Park’s new play area comes from the 2014 Parks Replacement Bond ($1.7 million) and $2.5 million from Parks System Development Charges (revenue from citywide construction development).

“We are committed to creating and embracing play areas which connect a greater number of people to self, to the outdoors, and to each other,” says Portland Parks & Recreation Interim Director Kia Selley. “It is rewarding to begin work on such a tremendous opportunity. The new, inclusive play area at Gabriel Park will help achieve PP&R’s goals of expanding the capacity of playground system, and creating an inclusive, ‘destination’ playground in more parts of the city to meet the needs of a growing Portland.”   

“The Southwest Neighborhood Parks Committee is excited by the announcement that Portland Parks & Recreation plans to modernize and significantly expand the Gabriel Park playground, with an emphasis on accessibility,” says Steve Mullinax, Chair of Southwest Neighborhoods, Inc.

“We are very happy about more play opportunities for children of all abilities, and look forward to engaging with PP&R in moving the project forward.” 

About Gabriel Park

Located roughly in the geographic center of southwest Portland, Gabriel Park provides an opportunity to serve nearly 31,000 households which currently do not have access to an inclusive outdoor playground. Gabriel Park is one of the few larger parks in the Portland Parks & Recreation system which has sufficient space, access to public transit service, a nearby community center (Southwest Community Center), parking areas, and an established variety of recreation amenities that support a project of this size and scope. Destination play areas tend to draw people from across the City, and are able to accommodate more children than a typical neighborhood playground. 

About inclusive playgrounds in Portland

Inclusive play areas are designed to accommodate the needs of children of all abilities, and to suit the needs of caregivers with varying capacities. Portland Parks & Recreation’s designs for inclusive play areas are based on current, Universal Design best practices, to ensure that all visitors enjoy a sensory-rich environment - one which allows children of all abilities to play alongside each other and opportunities to develop physical, cognitive, sensory and social skills. Inclusive play areas challenge and engage users at their own unique age and developmental levels. In Portland, 4,982 people under the age of 18 self-report having a disability according to the U.S. Census estimate; 0.9% of children under the age of 4, and 5.3% of persons between ages 5 and 15 report having a disability according to Oregon’s 2016 Disability Status Report. 

The Gabriel Park inclusive playground project is a result of combined funding from the 2014 Parks Replacement Bond and System Development Charges and the new understanding of playground design PP&R has gained through previous partnerships. 

Historically, through partnerships and the funds they have provided, PP&R has created playground design that goes beyond the minimum of ADA Standards for Accessible Design: 

  • 1995 – The Rotary Club of Portland spearheaded a $2 million fund-raising effort that culminated in the Rose Garden Children's Park, a popular play area for children of all ages at Washington Park (easily recognized by the animal-shaped hedges around the perimeter). 
  • 2012 – Thanks to the Goldberg family, and numerous community partnerships and donations, PP&R opened Portland’s first “inclusive” playground—Harper’s Playground at Arbor Lodge Park. The Harper’s Playground organization led the design process, raised $1.2 million and held the construction contract for this first inclusive playground endeavor in the PP&R system. 
  • In 2014, at the urging of Harper’s Playground leadership and Portland City Commissioners PP&R began to develop a planning approach to add inclusive “destination” play areas with an equitable geographic distribution throughout the city. 
  • Harper’s Playground has been involved in the funding and design process, guidelines, and as advisors to various degrees for inclusive play areas at Gateway Discovery Park (opening in summer 2018); Harper’s Playground led the design process at Couch Park (opening spring 2019), and was a key contributor to accessible play elements at Dawson Park. Harper’s Playground continues to rally community support with the City’s thanks.

Currently: 

  • PP&R strives to improve our understanding of design at all new playgrounds—installing Poured-in-Place or Hybrid play surfacing instead of engineered wood fiber in all 2014 Replacement Bond playground renovation projects and playgrounds in new parks. This change and other design features improves accessibility at newer play areas such as Dawson, Lents, Luuwit View, and Ventura Parks, to name a few. 
  • PP&R will be hosting a community conversation on levels of service for developed parks, including play areas, this summer, and will be inviting everyone to let us know what is important to them when playing in our parks.  

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