A BETTER way to play Unlike traditional playgrounds, an all-abilities playscape includes a wide range of play and usage options for people of dierent ages and abilities. SOURCES: AMERICAN SOCIETY OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS AND THE NATIONAL CENTER ON HEALTH, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND DISABILITY COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
PHOTOS BY GREG PERLISKICOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
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An all-abilities playscape is designed to allow those at play to leave their wheelchairs .
A traditional playground can present unintended barriers like steep steps or
Central Park, such as an all-abilities playscape that could serve as a regional attrac- tion for west Travis County families caring for individuals with physical disabilities. According to City Manager Clint Garza, how early decisions
BEE CAVE CENTRAL PARK
PLAY FOR ALL ABILITIES PARK
soft surfaces without paths.
according to working documents presented to Bee Cave City Council.
about infrastructure are made will be crucial if the city is to see a future Central Park that contains some of the expanded amenities and regional ser- vices currently envisioned by city sta. “The infrastructure piece needs to be tackled now before we can get to the planning of the improvements,” Garza said. “I want it to be as easy as humanly possible to bring your chil- dren to the park.” To illustrate the dependencies between park infrastructure and ame- nities, sta presented to City Council onMay 25 a concept plan that includes a $3.22 million phased approach to adding roadways to run through the park. If built, this system of roads would put in place new park entrances and exits for motorists at RM 620, Hwy. 71 and to the west at property to be developed into a mixed-use devel- opment and live music venue. Council delayed voting on the road plan May 25 and asked staff to reconsider proposed access points to the park at RM 620 to the east and to the west at the adjoining Back- yard development. Council also asked staff to reconsider a proposed trafic circle in the southwest corner of the park. Today, access to the park, opened in 2009 as part of the development of the Hill Country Galleria, is through a sin- gle entrance o Bee Cave Parkway, just west of the parkway’s intersectionwith RM 620. Current amenities include a hike and bike trail, pavilions, tradi- tional playgrounds and dog parks. Notable for future development is the idea for an all-abilities playscape and pavilion in the southwest corner of the park that, as envisioned, would serve individuals with physical dis- abilities or limited range of motion,
The ideas discussed by Bee Cave City Council and sta are similar to the 51,000-square-foot munici- pal Play for All Park in Round Rock. That park contains paved paths and attractions for people of all ages and abilities, and according to those involved with the park, it has become a regional attraction. The Round Rock park is accessed directly by a dedicated driveway and a parking lot with space for about 100 cars in the immediate area. Parking is also reserved for those moving wheel- chairs from their vehicles. “We did put that initial parking lot in, and we soon realized that we didn’t have enough space,” said Gregg Miller, chairman of the Play for All Foundation, which works with Round Rock businesses to nance operations at its park. “We were looking to serve the greater Round Rock area, but we have people from all over the Central Texas area coming to use the park.” Garza said he thinks Central Park in Bee Cave has potential to be like the Play for All Park in Round Rock. “I want to see families coming from all over,” Garza said. “But it’s also something our sta and our cit- izens have recognized is a local need. There’s a gap there.” This gap is felt by parents looking for an all-abilities park and facing a drive to Round Rock, said Molly May, chief support ocer for special edu- cation at Eanes ISD. “It shouldn’t have to be this planned excursion and a lot of hours to play on a playground,” she said. At a March Bee Cave council work- shop on Central Park, Council Mem- ber Jon Cobb said he thought an
An all-abilities park encourages children of dierent ages and ability to interact .
all-abilities park would become a regional attrac- tion for the city. “Families, they go there. That’s a destina- tion for them,” he said during the workshop. “That’s how special it is
for those families.” Growingfamilies in westTravisCounty
An all-abilities playscape contains paved pathways that connect activity areas.
A review of enroll- ment data from the past ve years from Lake Tra- vis, Dripping Springs and Eanes ISDs reects a grow- ing number of school-aged
2017-18 to 2020-21 school years. And while a small percentage of special education students have a dis- ability that limits physical movement, area school ocials say it is important to focus on how an all-ability park ben- ets the larger community. “We want it to be inviting for all stu- dents so they can run along with their peers, push their friend’s wheelchair— all means all,” said Nadine Hogan, DSIDS director of special services.
children in the area and an increasing number of students enrolled in spe- cial education classes. EISD has seen enrollment in special education grow by 17% from the 2017- 18 to 2020-21 school years. In DSISD, enrollment in special education classes has increased 31% from the 2017-18 to 2020-21 school years. Finally, in the Lake Travis ISD, special education enrollment has risen 42% from the
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