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Portland Parks & Recreation begins construction on new, more inclusive Gabriel Park playground

News article

The new, much larger play area will be more accessible to people of all abilities and will have play elements that are unique in the PP&R system.

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(Portland, OR) –

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) is beginning construction this month on a new, expansive, more inclusive and accessible playground at Southwest Portland’s Gabriel Park (SW 37th Avenue and SW Vermont Street). The new playground is intended to be a regional destination where all Portlanders are able to play together.

The innovative new playground will have play elements that are unique in the Portland Parks & Recreation system. It will be more than three times the size of the current 3,250 square foot play area, and construction is expected to be completed by winter 2021/22. 

“Inclusive playgrounds are a crucial part of building a sustainable Portland Parks & Recreation,” says Portland Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio. “No child should be deprived a rich play experience, addressing physical, sensory, and social needs, just because a playground was inaccessible. The Gabriel Park play area will be a civic treasure because it reflects our commitment to an inclusive park system that can meet both Portland’s current and future needs.”

The new Gabriel Park play area will feature:

  • An inclusive in-ground trampoline that allows users to wheel or walk onto the feature
  • Accessible routes to all play equipment
  • A perimeter fence for safety
  • An inclusive spinner that allows users to wheel or walk on, promoting collaborative play
  • Swings for people of all abilities and ages
  • Brightly colored smooth rubber safety surfacing throughout the play area
  • Interactive sensory panels that provide a range of tactile, sight, and auditory engagement for visitors
  • Two accessible slides; one low, wide slide that can accommodate individuals or an individual and a caregiver side-by-side, and one tall tube slide with transfer platforms at the top and bottom for mobility device users
  • Small rubber mounds to assist in scrambling up the hillside
  • A climbing wall and inclusive climbing dome to encourage creative play and social interaction
  • Interactive music elements and water play features for sensory play and social interaction
  • Seating areas and quiet spots to take a break
  • Accessible picnic area with drinking fountain and bike racks for gatherings
  • Accessible pathways from the parking lot, SW Vermont Street, and from the TriMet bus stop at SW 37th Avenue
  • Parking and restroom accessibility improvements
  • 37 new trees

“Portland Parks & Recreation remains committed to centeringequity in the delivery of our programs and services,” says PP&R Director Adena Long. “The inclusive features of the new Gabriel Park playground mean fewer barriers for Portlanders to access the recreation and play opportunities that we all need now more than ever. This playground will be a place of exploration and connection, and one all Portlanders will be proud of.”

The renovated Gabriel Park play area will join the ranks of Portland’s inclusive playgrounds at Arbor Lodge Park (Harper’s Playground), Couch Park, and Gateway Discovery Park. The Southwest Portland location means PP&R is one step closer to fulfilling its goal of a flagship inclusive play area in every part of the city. Most new PP&R playgrounds incorporate some inclusive design techniques and accessible elements, including adaptive swings, ramps, slides with platforms, and rubber surfacing.

PP&R engaged extensively with the community on the Gabriel Park playground design to ensure it will be effective in accommodating people of differing abilities and developmental levels. Members of the Project Advisory Committee included people who work with the disability community in the medical and education fields, people who are living with disabilities themselves (or have family members who are), residents at Home Forward’s Stephens Creek Crossing, members of the Somali community, young people, and park neighbors.

The long-planned project at Gabriel Park is funded by the 2014 Parks Replacement Bond, Parks System Development Charges, and PP&R’s Capital Fund ADA Program. System Development Charges are one-time fees assessed on new building development across the city. SDCs help ensure that Portland's quality of life keeps pace with our growing and changing city by providing additional parks and recreation facilities to meet the needs of all Portlanders.

This is the tenth PP&R playground to be constructed with funds from the Parks Replacement Bond, which Portland voters overwhelmingly approved in 2014.