An Accessible, Sustainable Playground

East Meadow, N.Y., is home to a new, fully accessible Let All The Children Play playground.

The Let All The Children Play playground at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, NY, features wide paths and ramp-equipped climbing structures. Photo by Peter Wilk/Wilk Marketing Communications

BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers served as architect, landscape architect, site engineer, and construction administrator for the two-acre facility.

It is the first fully accessible playground in Nassau County and one of the first in the United States.

The Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums developed the playground in a private/public partnership with Let All The Children Play Foundation.

The Long Island not-for-profit organization is dedicated to improving the lives and dignity of all children by developing accessible playgrounds and inclusive recreation programs.

Funding sources included $820,000 raised through the Nassau County 2006 Environmental Bond Act, the New York State CCAP Grant of $250,000, the $200,000 New York State EPF Grant sponsored by NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Nassau County funds, LATCP funds, and private donations.

According to BBS Principal Roger P. Smith, AIA, LEED AP, “The new, $1.25-million playground is designed to promote interaction among children both with and without disabilities.

“It is a place where children can discover, learn and socialize, while developing understanding and sensitivity towards each other.

“BBS’ design allows children of different physical and mental abilities, including those in wheelchairs, to play together and share every area and each piece of equipment on the playground,” he said.

BBS assisted Nassau County and the LATCP Foundation with site selection, topographic survey coordination, conceptual and schematic planning, complete design, cost estimating, development of construction documents, coordination between the public and private funding parties, and development of fundraising materials and visuals.

“During the design process, we were guided by the idea of complete accessibility to all play areas and all equipment by children with even severe physical and mental disabilities,” explained BBS Vice President and co-head of Site Planning and Design Group Curt T. Coronato, RLA, ASLA, CPSI.

“This included the physical access for children in wheelchairs, safety and ease of use by children with reduced abilities, design that allowed all children to play next to each other regardless of disability, increased sound and sensory play opportunities, and easy access to all areas by parents of children in need of assistance during play.  The design also accommodates disabled adults.”

“One of the design challenges ­ – and opportunities – was locating the playground within an existing park with mature trees,” Coronato said.

“Our team developed the playground’s layout in a manner that preserved the mature trees.  It required several creative landscaping and site engineering solutions, but the final result was a comfortable, pleasant playground with extensive shading and the feel of connection with nature.”

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