Mercerdale Playground Renovation Project

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Mercerdale Park is getting new playground equipment this year, along with new drainage and accessible play features!

Playground Construction is Delayed until Fall

The Mercerdale Park playground equipment installation is delayed until this fall. We are expecting delivery in October. Playworld, the manufacturer of the playground equipment, experienced a significant fire at their plant in early May. News story here. The manufacturing lines have reopened, and our equipment is in the production queue.

Our partner, Mercer Island Preschool Association has been busy fundraising for the project. MIPA has contributed and raised over $42,000 for the project. Way to go

Mercerdale Park is getting new playground equipment this year, along with new drainage and accessible play features!

Playground Construction is Delayed until Fall

The Mercerdale Park playground equipment installation is delayed until this fall. We are expecting delivery in October. Playworld, the manufacturer of the playground equipment, experienced a significant fire at their plant in early May. News story here. The manufacturing lines have reopened, and our equipment is in the production queue.

Our partner, Mercer Island Preschool Association has been busy fundraising for the project. MIPA has contributed and raised over $42,000 for the project. Way to go MIPA!

We are working to prepare the site for the new equipment. The site has been fenced off and the contractor will be removing the remaining equipment and play chip base over the next few weeks.

Why is the City Replacing the Playground Equipment?

The existing playground is 19 years old, and the equipment is at the end of its useful life. The groundcover chips have also broken down and are clogging the drainage system. The level of the play surface will be raised to meet the top of the existing concrete edging to improve accessibility, but the edging, seating and landscaping will remain in place.

Share Your Thoughts

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I went to several playgrounds with my 2 and 5 year old grandsons in Asheville, NC two weeks ago. I was very impressed with the equipment they had. It was good looking and was good for both kids. I was told it was made in Germany.

I would like to send you pictures of the equipment.

rmoore 6 months ago

Is there any plan for the old equipment to be sold to the public?

nicksun 6 months ago

As I noted in my email to the parks dept. I thought the parks dept.'s presentation was very good and the new design a good design, especially the ground surface and color scheme. My previous email on the meeting is reprinted below.

I think MIPA and some of the other groups are more qualified than I am when it comes to selecting the features, although I liked the climbing feature voted on, and the other features as well.

As an aside, I was near Bellevue Park for dinner on Friday so I took a look at the playground there. There were a lot of kids. The climbing feature was the most popular. The water feature either was not turned on or no one wanted to use it. The spinning feature was not used. The big slides were not used either, although ironically the hill next to the slides was popular for climbing and sliding, but mostly for older kids. The in-ground trampoline seemed a little lame to me, especially for older kids, and only one small kid used it.

The spinning feature was also not being used by kids. However the swings were very popular and seemed to me an excellent accessible feature because the new swings come with a kind of enclosed chair for the kid to sit in and be secured. For a kid in a wheelchair or who is disabled wanting to get height and an equal thrill the new swings with an enclosed chair as the seat seemed like the best option for me because the ride or thrill is exactly the same for a disabled and non-disabled kid, and something a parent could do with their child. I know when my kids were young I spent a lot of time pushing them on swings, and have fond memories of that activity together.


Hello, I thought the meeting last night was excellent. 23 is not a lot of participants, but better than 12.

I thought Jason and Paul did a very good job.

My thoughts on the specifics are:

1. The color schemes were what I had hoped for and voted for. Natural colors, and if possible natural materials or natural looking materials seemed to be popular with everyone.

2. The ground surface choices between all green synthetic turf and green synthetic turf with colored areas for different features were both acceptable to me, and I can see why most liked a green ground surface with some colors to separate the features. The first proposal for a covered concrete pad like at Luther Burbank was not popular.

3. There was no talk of budget so I am assuming based on these designs that is not a big issue.

4. There was no talk of expanding the footprint which is probably a good idea if expedited permitting and construction is the goal.

5. When it came to the features themselves, I was a little surprised most participants tended to vote for the bigger or higher feature, which by definition are less "accessible". I always thought one of the issues for this playground was those who wanted accessibility to the playground and those who wanted accessibility to the playground and mostly accessible features. I agreed with the vote because the features preferred appeal to a broader element of kids. I think some of the originally proposed more accessible features were too little or non-appealing to a broad spectrum of kids.

6. Not many features for psychological/emotional disabilities, but space is limited, and creating a quiet space at a playground in a park always seemed a bit oxymoronic to me.

7. I liked the preferred climbing feature.

8. I disagree with the idea of a fence running from the Thrift Store to 78th. A fence has never been needed before, and making a playground accessible should not suddenly require a fence.

9. I wasn't really sure about the spinning feature. Making a spinning feature "accessible" seems difficult to me because it is spinning, but spinning features are popular and allow kids to play together, and the space needed is not great like a swing. Some have mentioned a water feature, but then you get into keeping the water sanitized, whether it would be popular when cold, and I have heard a water feature can require an onsite bathroom. There were proposals for an inground trampoline but I am not sure how accessible that would be, and trampolines raise issues of liability for me, even if in ground. If I were a parent concerned about whether the features themselves are accessible enough, I might look at something other than the spinning feature since the rest of the features provide lots of opportunities for non-disabled and older kids. I would like to hear what others think.

Daniel Thompson 6 months ago

Thank you for the April 14th meeting, which was so well planned and executed by the City. Great info, fun polls, enough time for citizens to ask questions and have them answered by the experts. I appreciated all of the questions and answers. Also many thanks for posting the slideshow of the presentation on Let’s Talk. It is wonderful to have all of this information so easily accessible.
I have reviewed the slideshow and now I have some additional questions:
1. Will the “CUSTOM ENTRY ARCH” be eliminated from the final design/s? I noted that it was not on any of the blueprints for the 4 new proposed designs, and I was glad that it was not. I think that an Entry Arch sends exactly the wrong message of welcome and openness to the playground. Our Community Playground should be inclusive, open, and welcoming from every angle and direction—whatever appeals to any visitor should be their first point of contact with the equipment, rather than a “THIS is the RIGHT way to enter” message. Also, of course, saving the money for an element that will not be used for active play is another advantage of eliminating the Custom Entry Arch.
2. What are Rotomolded Colors” and WHY and HOW are they different from “Component and Post Colors”?
3. In “Structure Design, Option 1” there is a “Wall” that looks to be made of knotted rope squares, but I don’t see that in any of the other blueprints. Will that be included in the other designs, and if so, where?
4. Please post the 4 proposed design blueprints and the Option 1, 2, 3 and 4 photos in the “Project Photos” section along with the photos and blueprint of the “Proposed Playground Replacement” that is currently posted there. I cannot enlarge the blueprints from the slideshow on my laptop computer, but I can enlarge the blueprint from the “Project Photos” section (x 500%) so that I can read that one. I’d like to be able to examine all of the 4 proposed design blueprints in more detail.
5. I could not find the poll tallies—could you please share them? These are important because as I recall the “Climbable” structure that got the most votes was “Option 4—Climbable Cone Spinner,” which the presenter raved about in his intro, but the spinning element of that seems to make it less accessible to many children—not only those with physical challenges, but those who don’t like spinning, thus eliminating a major climbing element for many children. This drawback of “Option 4” was not pointed out by the presenter, which I think was unfortunate. I hope that the spinner included in the final design proposal will be separate from the climber, so that all children can enjoy whichever they prefer, without needing to be able to tolerate spinning in order to be able to climb.
6. I did appreciate the presenter’s description of the “Cocoon” spinner, which looked to me to be an easily overlooked choice (when I first saw it I also wondered why anyone would select it), but after his description of how it is useful in so many ways: (1) saves space yet offers spinning to those who love it, (2) is a wonderful shady resting place for anyone (3) is a perfect respite for a special needs child who can then observe and be a part of the playground without interacting with it. Question: Can adults—thinking grandparents—fit into it for a little rest?! Maybe with a grandchild baby or toddler on their laps? I hope this element gets a second chance before being abandoned in our playground—hopefully it could fit into a little space somewhere?
Meg Lippert

meg.lippert 6 months ago

Great presentation about options and choices and colors and priorities on 4/14 by the City. Well organized and actually fun. Plenty of time for well-structured feedback to the designers and also for participants to ask questions. If you weren't there, you are in luck, because it was all recorded. If you are a parent with children, or a grandparent with grandchildren, or someone who just likes to swing once in a while, watch the video (will be posted soon here --I hope--or contact the City for info) and give YOUR feedback.

meg.lippert 6 months ago

Here is another good source of information:

John Hamer 6 months ago

Thanks John, I really appreciate your work on this project, and fully support a playground accessible for disabled kids.

From what I have been told recently, selecting colors that are consistent with the surrounding park is something most support. I would hope the artificial ground cover can be green to match the surrounding grass. In fact, the current red/black/gray colors on the design on Let's Talk are just a default color scheme.

Another thing I have learned is there are many different disabilities, both physical and emotional/psychological, and each disability has unique needs when it comes to features. Plus there seems to be a desire to include features for non-disabled kids, and for all different ages.

My concern is there won't be enough space within the existing footprint for all the different features to serve the many different disabilities, as many playground features have code requirements that require a certain amount of space between features.

I am not sure the funding exists for expanding the playground's footprint, or the city wants to embark on an issue that could become contentious. Plus I understand many parents want the playground completed as soon as possible.

One idea if space becomes an issue is to create a placeholder for a climbing structure on the grass to the east for non-disabled kids that would free up room in the accessible portion of the playground for features for disabled kids. I think park advocates would prefer the grass remain the ground cover and would object to expanding an artificial ground cover, which would lower costs, and as natural a climbing structure as possible, including using shrubs or plants as a fence or enclosure. The placeholder could be contingent on private fundraising.

I look forward to the meeting tomorrow and the different features the parks dept. plans on presenting.

Daniel Thompson 6 months ago

All those interested in the Mercerdale playground renovation should watch this TED talk by a national expert on park design. It will open your eyes.

John Hamer 7 months ago

Mercerdale Park Playground is the Island’s most centrally located and most publicly visible playground, and as such, most clearly represents the values and artistic integrity of Islanders.
Its location adjacent to the expansive Town Center lawn--nearby the Native Plant Garden, with the natural backdrop of wooded Mercerdale Hillside Park--offers a unique opportunity for the structures and play surface to echo and amplify natural forms and materials.
In considering the proposed plan, with its bright red highlights and its industrial feel, the following questions come to mind:
1. Can access to play with natural materials—either sand, or water, or both-- be included in the playground design?
2. Can the color scheme and equipment reflect natural colors and forms?
3. Can the play structures be made of natural, rather than industrial, materials?
4. Can the play surface be a natural color, blue and/or green, instead of black?
5. Can elements and/or structures that challenge older and younger children be integrated into the design (for families with children of different ages)?
6. Can elements, such as mosaics and/or a climbing structure/s, that are created by local artists be included, not only to support their work, but also to add artistic inspiration for children to their play space?
Photographs of playgrounds that exemplify various ways to address these questions--and stimulate a child’s creativity, love of nature, and desire for physical exploration of the space—have been sent to the City Council, the City Manager, the Parks and Recreation Commission, and Paul West. Unfortunately, the photographs were not accepted by Let’s Talk. The photographs include:
1. Example of a playground that includes accessible interaction with natural materials—sand
2. Example of a playground (Inspiration Park, in Bellevue) that includes accessible interaction with natural materials—water
3. Example of a playground that includes color schemes and equipment reflecting natural colors and forms
4. Example of play structures that are made of natural, rather than industrial, materials
5. Example of a playground with play surfaces that are evocative of nature (green and/or blue—not black/gray)
6. Example of a playground that includes elements and/or structures for older children as well as younger children
7. Example of playground climbing structure/element created by an artist—a frog climbing structure (Inspiration Playground in Bellevue):
Have our Island artists, and/or our Arts Commission, and/or the Mercer Island Visual Artists League (MIVAL) been consulted for their ideas and feedback with regard to the playground design and features?

meg.lippert 7 months ago

Please put April 14 at 7 pm on your calendar for an online open house to comment on design proposals for a renovation of Mercerdale Park playground. We need strong public support for accessibility, equity and inclusion for ALL, including disabled children like my grandson but also for parents, caregivers and granparents like me! Disabled people are the nation's largest minority group and this is a civil-rights issue of the highest priority.

John Hamer 7 months ago

Removed by moderator.

Laura Schaps 7 months ago

Hello Let's Talk! I am thrilled people are so engaged on this topic about inclusivity and the design that is being proposed for our central park here on Mercer Island.

I think it is huge for us to think about this project not just from a parental aspect, a fully capable child's point of view, but also a grandparent's aspect, a mobility challenged parent that would like to take their child to a park and not have to drive 45 minutes to be able to access a playground, and a child that has special needs (either physical or mental). It breaks my heart to hear or see, that a child could attend a playground and have no option to play. Or that you could bring a child to a park who is on the autism spectrum and they have no where to feel safe if they need a moment when at a busy, stimulating playground. I love that this design has options for children of ALL abilities. For those of you who have deemed this a "little kid" playground, I have to disagree- and also to remind you that there is a skate park within walking distance, a nicely paved path around the park for them to ride their bikes, scooter, "pokemon go" walk etc, not to mention a HUGE grassly field (bring a bat and ball or a frisbee!) and for the older siblings when the thrift store is open- to shop!

This process has made me so perceptive on others' needs in our community. I also want to put this in a prospective that is not JUST for "disabled" children. Yes, there is a lot this project "could be". I agree with you. However I think it is also important to understand, recognize and respect the scope of this project. Do some research on this project and what it includes. Attend the meetings. Speak up, don't just speak out after the fact in frustration.

The "unnatural" look you are referring to in some comments on this forum, I understand. However the "bright" colors can be very overstimulating for a child on the autism spectrum. 85% of children on the spectrum perceive colors to be more intense than a child displaying "normal" development. Yes. The majority of this island is NOT disabled, maybe even NOT on the spectrum. However, it is important to include activities for those children that are, and it is so late in the game that we, as a community, are starting this discussion.

To think that my children could attend this park safely, gives me a peace of mind. I love the balance trax pathways with the handrails, and the monkey bars that are both horizontal and vertical.
I do agree that there does not need to be ONLY items for children with disabilities- this can serve everyone.

If there is a place for a child on the spectrum that could easily feel overwhelmed at a playground a cozy, quiet place, to recharge and regroup and continue play- amazing. I can't tell you how many parents would appreciate an extra 30 minutes to see their children re-boot and start to play outdoors again because of that amenity. Not to mention this amenity could also be used by children not with sensory issues as a toy! 2 for 1, amazing. Do some research on this, I beg you.
This is not a little kids park, this is also- let me remind you, is NOT a done deal. The city has been amazing listening to feedback about this project. Attend the 4/14 meeting. Let's integrate these ideas and make this a great space for everyone.

One thing that is important to me, and parents with multiple children, grandparents who may not be as fast as their grandkids, and kids on the spectrum is to include a fence. With the surfacing being flat there is no barrier between the playground to the grass and the busy road. 48% of children on with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) attempt to wander from safe spaces, and with the road being so close and so busy, let's talk about a fence (Even a U-Shape) to guard the park from the road. We do not want to have to wait for something to happen to make this addition.

I would also LOVE to see a water feature, water fountain/playground hybrid or splash pad. Water is so stimulating for ALL children. Any age child would love to enjoy the benefits of a fountain, water spray, fountain/water fall etc. this provides so much enrichment for children of all abilities and ages gross motor skills, problem solving, imaginative play- the studies are out there and endless on how beneficial water play is to children.
Thanks for reading and I am looking forward to the 4/14 meeting!

Laura Schaps 7 months ago

Let’s make Mercerdale Park more inclusive! Everyone lives happier lives when the ones they love can join the fun. An inclusive park would mean no child is watching from the sidelines, but instead is laughing and playing right along side their friends and family. And what in this world is better than seeing a child smile?

Monika Swick 7 months ago

It’s critical that the new playground be accessible to all. Please continue to be considerate to those who are unable to walk and those who have access with wheelchairs or other equipment. Our world is quickly becoming more diverse- let’s rise to the occasion and lead our community by example.

Erin Aleman 7 months ago

I want to first start by saying that it is 2021. Let that sink in.
Really, think about it.
Think about how far we have come on human rights issues and how far BEHIND we are on others.
I am going to define a few things that are helpful:
Accessibility Vs. Inclusion
ACCESSIBILITY: Capable on being reached or entered. Access to. The most base level of Inclusion.
Most accessibility improvements are driven by compliance with ADA code. Within a playground, the law requires physical “access into” the space, such as a smooth path within the greater bark exterior. However, it is still legal to not provide access to any play components. Thus a child can ONLY watch others play.
INCLUSION: Providing EQUAL access to opportunities, places and experiences and ensuring they are open to all people, regardless of age, disability, and background.
A belief in a sense of belonging.
A mindset that involves VALUING DIVERSE EXPERIENCE.
Benefits everyone.

Second, This is not a park that is primarily designed for “disabled children.” It is a park designed for ALL children. What is the case with every park on the island is that they are ONLY designed for “non-disabled” children and in fact **EXCLUDE** disabled ones.

Again, I want to remind you that its 2021.

Look up the research of kids learning and playing alongside their peers. Most, if not all of us were not given the opportunity to exist alongside children with varying types of disabilities and it shows. It shows everywhere. Its heartbreaking. We know better and we HAVE to do better! The next generation deserves to know the value of every human being in all of their uniqueness.
Colors are easy to change. Less rubber is absolutely an option, it is only required is crash landing areas. Other areas can simply be concrete which is more affordable and natural. Large boulders are a great natural piece as well. Climbing on organic surfaces have numerous benefits. There are also spaces where a couple trees could be planted with a raised wall with a dual purpose to offer more seating and yet another area for kids to explore and climb on.
I would be very interested to meet the “parents of disabled children who are worried this park will carry a stigma” and further interaction from their peers (that they are 100% not getting the chance NOW to be with at the park)

A final thought on siblings who might be bored. If you want to learn anything about acceptance, inclusion, compassion, patience and creativity, go learn it from a sibling of a disabled child.

Effie 7 months ago

Thanks so much for inviting citizens' comments on this critical project. As you know, a concerned coalition of parents, grandparents, friends, families and other volunteers have been working closely with the city staff and elected officials to make sure that the new Mercerdale playground is as accessible and inclusive as possible given the tight timeline and limited budget. Our group includes members of MIPA, Rotary, PTA, Friendship Circle and others who are knowledgeable about optimum design for those of ALL ages and abilities.

The current proposed design from Northwest Playgrounds is a huge improvement over the original proposal, although a few adjustments may stll make sense. Our team members are willing and able to help raise additional funds to supplement the city budget. As you know, Bellevue Rotary did that for their downtown park, which is largely accessible, and so have other clubs statewide and nationwide. Inclusivity means truly welcoming children with disabilities like my grandson, who lives near Mercerdale but cannot use the playground because "natural" surfaces like bark dust don't work for wheelchairs. He longs to play alongside other kids on in-ground trampolines and merry-go-rounds, but we have none (yet) on Mercer Island.

We should be leading this new stage of the civil-rights movement -- i.e., removing all remaining discrimination against the largest minority group in the country: the disabled. Disability Is Diversity, after all. Kids, adults and seniors with any mobility issues will benefit from parks and playgrounds that are truly inclusive by encouraging multigenerational use.

At the same time, those without any disabilities benefit from the rich interaction. This is what our society should clearly embrace and is the next step in the ADA's progressive and necessary evolution. Mercer Island can and should make Mercerdale a regional model.

I'm glad to discuss this in detail with anyone who has any concerns. Reply to me on Facebook, email, or call me at 206.910.5270. Let's talk! 🤩

John Hamer 7 months ago

I am writing in support of a fully accessible playground, one that can be actively enjoyed by all children and their families, regardless of physical abilities. As a Mercer Island resident and the mother of a child with cerebral palsy, it is difficult to put into words how heartbreaking it is for your child to have to watch other kids play on a playground from afar because it is not built in a way for them to participate. The impact has long lasting effects that most of us do not begin to realize. Although most parents are unaware of how things like wood chips or walkways without handlebars or platforms and slides that can only be accessed by stairs or monkey bars might impact others, they have serious consequences for those who are physically challenged. Please make sure our kids have a place to play that is safe and accessible to all. Our children of all abilities deserve it.

Sally Morgan 7 months ago

There are many different surfaces for wheelchair bound kids. Access is one issue. However a playground needs to be designed for kids of all ages and abilities. The two demographics not involved in this decision making are disabled kids, and kids in general.

The issue with this design is it is in a park, and is very unsympathetic to its natural surroundings. We put playgrounds in parks because kids like nature and the outdoors, and live too much of their lives indoors, especially if disabled.

The design looks like the inside of a Bellevue office building with gray carpeting, and like no other playground on MI I am familiar with. Very sterile. If the footprint is going to expand, which is a big issue in this park which already has so much of its limited area developed or paved, the surface should not contrast so highly with the other textures and colors in the park, which are the colors and textures of nature.

My advice in the past is for the city to post photos of other, existing playgrounds that meet the access requirements it seeks, so citizens can see what other cities have done. Starting with two presumptive designs, and then reducing that to one based on 12 comments, for a playground that will be there for 20 years, is rash IMO.

I used this playground for many years when my kids were young. I have no objection to a new playground (depending on the increased footprint), or that it be accessible to those in wheelchairs, but MI might not have the best designer in the world, and why does the city always feel it has to reinvent the wheel.

Click on the link above and see if there is a design you prefer over what the city is preliminarily suggesting based on 12 citizen comments.

Make the playground look more like the park it sits in is my one desire, and has no impact on accessiblity.

Daniel Thompson 7 months ago

1) I’m appalled that citizens are suggesting designing a playground that is inaccessible to every child.

2) One design comment-
The current playground serves both preschool and older kids. This one looks like it is preschool only. Making an accessible playground does not mean designing only for young kids. In fact, older DD/ID kids and young adults use and enjoy playgrounds. Check out the accessibly-designed playground near Bell Sq Mall, which is always packed, for better ideas.

MIHSarea 7 months ago

If the playground is supposed to be accessible to all, it must to have a surface that can be navigated by wheelchairs and those with limited mobility with ease. Otherwise, accessible to all is just a title used to make us feel good about inclusiveness that doesn’t actually exist.

JCBiagi 7 months ago
Page last updated: 08 September 2021, 15:56