Over the past year, excitement has been building in Santa Clarita for a new amenity that directly benefits those we must continue to invest in—our children. The inclusive play area at Canyon Country Park has been a big topic of discussion at City Hall, in the media and in community groups as we get ready to unveil this first-of-its-kind playground in our city.
As city manager, I have the opportunity to speak directly with residents about a number of ideas, and parents have consistently advocated for an Inclusive Play Area for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy. I am proud of the work put in by city staff, under the direction of the City Council, to make this dream a reality and I invite you to join us as we celebrate its grand opening tomorrow at 10 a.m.
Looking back at this process, I want to share with you some of what makes this extra special for our community. Our residents – and their children – have been involved every step of the way and it is deeply satisfying to know that the Inclusive Play Area is a direct result of their input and ideas.
One story I would like to relay is of a mother and her son, Matthew, who came to the city’s public outreach meetings at Canyon Country Park last year to see concept drawings and a list of proposed features. After they’d seen the presentation from city staff and the designer, Matthew wrote a list of elements he wanted to see in the final product.
Among Matthew’s proposed items were a quiet area for children, a pet waste bag dispenser and receptacles for recycling. Although Matthew was unable to attend the follow-up public meeting, his mother was delighted to see that designers added a “Bark Park Waste Station” to the playground area, specifically based on Matthew’s feedback.
Quiet areas for children to play are also incorporated through the availability of under-deck spaces and crawl tubes in the playground equipment. Other features of the inclusive play area suggested by the public include having a fenced playground with limited openings and gateways to enhance safety, interactive elements that are low to the ground for accessibility and a “Merry-Go-All,” which is a fully accessible Merry-Go-Round that allows all children to play together.
At the celebration event, attendees will have the opportunity to hear more from the City Council about the project before the official ribbon cutting. Following the ceremony, children and families are encouraged to explore every inch of the western-themed play area to see how the dreams of the community have come to life.
The inclusive play area at Canyon Country Park is truly a landmark project for our community that fills a critical need in the Santa Clarita Valley for children, teens and adults. I look forward to seeing you at the celebration event and hearing your feedback on all the playground has to offer.
Ken Striplin is the city manager of Santa Clarita.