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New UWS Playground Dubbed 'Gold Standard' of Accessibility for All Kids

By Emily Frost | September 7, 2016 6:06pm
 The Parks Department presented its final plans for the renovation of Bloomingdale Playground to make it more accessible to all users. 
Bloomingdale Playground to Transform to Accessible Space
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A complete redesign of an aging West 105th Street playground got the go-ahead Tuesday night after years of planning, paving the way for the space to become a new model of accessibility for New York City play spaces.

Community Board 7, whose members launched the redesign process back in the fall of 2014, approved the final design for Bloomingdale Playground presented by the Parks Department Tuesday night. The design came out of a lengthy collaboration with residents, as well as students and teachers at the schools adjoining the playground that sits on Amsterdam Avenue between West 104th and 105th streets.

City Councilman Mark Levine, whose district includes the Upper West Side, called the design the "gold standard" for accessibility and inclusiveness in the city during the meeting Tuesday.

The playground's "universal design" concept calls for play equipment and layouts to not just be accessible, but to encourage interaction between children of different mental and physical abilities. For example, play equipment is roomy enough to accommodate a wheelchair user and a typically abled child simultaneously.

Members of Community Board 7 began dreaming up ideas in the fall of 2014, noting the availability of ADA-compliant playgrounds or those with wheelchair ramps in the neighborhood, but no spaces designed with differently abled kids in mind. 

The design presented by the Parks Department integrate the inclusive elements seamlessly, Levine said. 

When kids go to the new $5.8 million playground, "all they’re going to know is that they’re having fun," he said.

"We’ve developed a plan that will result in a great addition to the Upper West Side," added Steve Simon, chief of staff for the Parks Department, at the meeting. 

In addition to separate play equipment areas for 2- to 5-year-olds and 5- to 12-year-olds, the new playground will feature a spray shower, fitness equipment, refreshed basketball courts and a new turf field. 

The Parks Department did not immediately return a request for comment regarding when construction on the project would begin or how long it would last.