On the Daily: A park Leslie Knope would be proud of

Monday, September 18, 2017 - 2:41pm

A new universal-access playground was unveiled at Ann Arbor’s Gallup Park this weekend. Named the Rotary Centennial Playground, the space is open and accessible to all people, regardless of age or ability.

The project, which has been in the works since 2013, is a $1.1 million addition to Gallup Park. The Rotary Club of Ann Arbor donated $550,000 to make the playground a reality. Collyer Smith, president of the organization, told MLive that the playground aims to bring people together in its accessibility.

"It is for people of all abilities and all ages,” Collyer said. “It's not just for kids. It's not just for disabled people. It's not just for disabled kids. It is for people of all abilities and all ages to play together."

Colin Smith, director of the Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Services, echoed the Rotary Club’s sentiments.

"It's for the child and for the caregiver too, or the parent, so everyone can be involved in every aspect of it,” Colin said. “I hope it continues to be a place where people can come together and enjoy together and to grow and play.”

According to ClickOn Detroit, more than 100 people attended Sunday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, where Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor gave a statement.

“Ann Arbor is beautiful because of who we are and what we do," Taylor told the crowd.

The playground is centered around a fairy theme, with different play structures to make players feel as if they’re in woodlands, rivers or prairies. The structures encourage cooperative play and are handicap-accessible.

The city said it was thrilled with the way the playground turned out. Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Services tweeted a photo of the ribbon-cutting ceremony, writing, “We could not have asked for a better outcome from this collaboration.”

Although this playground is already a great success, Hillary Hanzel, one of the project heads and landscape architects, told ClickOn Detroit there won’t be any others like it in Ann Arbor any time soon.

“(No other plans) for a playground of this size, scope and cost — this one is unique!” Hanzel said. “As we make improvements to other Ann Arbor Park playgrounds the principle of universal accessibility is certainly considered and a goal we strive for.”