A revamp of Southeast Park is much-needed and will have some inclusiveness, but will not be a true inclusive play park due to its location, Mineral Wells council members were told Tuesday.
David Rushing of Whirlix Design Inc. went into detail on renovation proposals of Southeast and West City parks, which include playground structures and other proposed amenities.
“Some of the things I noticed that were issues was parking. There’s just on-street parking, you’re right in the middle of a neighborhood, so really trying to create this inclusive play park, you’re going to get a lot of people into that neighborhood,” he said. “It just seems like that if you’re going to do an inclusive play park, the place to do it would be [West] City Park.”
The scope of the Southeast Park project includes a playground, shade, splash pad, resurfacing of the basketball court, solar lighting, new soccer goals, a new pavilion and site furnishings.
“The existing playground that’s right in the middle, we’re really expanding it to create a whole new park renovation there,” Rushing — who added that they’re looking toward a smart play system — said. “What we mean by a smart play system is how can we create a lot of play, a lot of bang, in a very small footprint. There’s a lot of sensory pieces. There are a lot of kids with sensory issues that we try to find ways on the playground to stimulate the sensory development within the inner ear.”
The Whirlix project proposal included a wheelchair accessible swing that would allow the child to utilize it independently.
“Not only are we trying to really revitalize this park, but we’re wanting to give this neighborhood something they can call their own,” Rushing said.
As for West City Park, the scope of the project includes two inclusive playgrounds, ages 2 to 5 and ages 5 to 12; engineered wood fiber/pour in the play surfacing; and stone sub-base.
“We wanted to create more of an inclusive play park there because you have the parking, it’s a well-known park and what we decided to do with all those trees is to really design a treehouse theme inclusive playground,” Rushing said. “When you’re looking at an inclusive play park, especially in a town like Mineral Wells, you want to make sure you’re putting it in the right place.”
Rushing added that an inclusive play park will draw from surrounding cities because they are not readily available in smaller park systems.
“When you talk about an inclusive playground, you’re really looking to design parks that are for all ages and all abilities because when you think of inclusive, what I think of is everybody,” he said. “A lot of times there’s a misnomer when you think of inclusive that we’re really thinking about kids with disabilities or kids with mobility disabilities, but we’re really thinking about how can we create a playground in a parks system that is for everybody.”
Mineral Wells Parks and Recreation Superintendent Andy Tarkington said the parks and recreation advisory board unanimously approved the proposed plan presented by Rushing at the April meeting.
No action was taken by the city council at Tuesday’s meeting.
Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee Chair Kathy Boswell asked that the city consider including an Open Spaces and Parks Plan in next fiscal year’s budget in order for grant funding to be acquired to implement the proposed projects.
“As you look at the scope of this project, there’s a lot that needs to be worked on,” Boswell said. “We understand we’re not a wealthy community and we can’t just go out and build all that [Rushing] showed us, but we would like to have some type of progress toward it.”
Other items approved/discussed at Tuesday’s city council meeting include:
• Recognition of the Boyce Ditto Public Library for receiving an award of excellence that only 56 of 256 libraries were awarded.
• The deeming of the 2001/2003 American LaFrance fire unit, Quint 2, as surplus with the intent to sell and authorization of staff to advertise for bids.
• An update on the 2018 bond projects, which revealed construction is currently about $400,000 under budget. The public bond dashboard where residents can track projects is now currently available on the city’s website and posted on the city’s Facebook page.
• Approval of selling the former Texas National Guard building to Perone Industries.