(Portland, OR) –
Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) will open the new, expansive, more accessible and inclusive playground at Southwest Portland’s Gabriel Park to the public on Saturday, May 14, 2022, as a regional destination where Portlanders of all abilities can play together.
The innovative new playground at SW 37th Avenue and SW Vermont Street has play elements that are unique in the PP&R system. It is more than three times the size of the previous 3,250 square foot play area, with features allowing access and enjoyment by people of differing abilities – including those using mobility devices and those accompanying them, such as caregivers and friends.
“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 is inspiring, beautiful, functional, and a key move towards equity and inclusion in our growing parks system.”
The new Gabriel Park play area features:
- An inclusive in-ground trampoline that allows users to wheel (possibly with assistance) 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 groups and for individuals of varying 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.
- 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
- A communication board which provides pictures for commonly used words and phrases in English and Spanish, and an ASL alphabet, allowing people with limited language skills to express themselves in a way others can understand.
- 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, curb ramp, street connections, and restroom accessibility improvements
- 50 newly planted 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 is a place of exploration and connection, and one all Portlanders will be proud of. It reflects our commitment to an inclusive park system that can meet Portland’s current and future needs.”
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 the goal of an inclusive play area of significant size (a regional destination) 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 BondParks 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.
The inclusive play area at Gabriel Park is the tenth PP&R playground to be constructed with funds from the Parks Replacement Bond, which Portland voters overwhelmingly approved in 2014.