Accessible Playground Challenges Kids to Learn the Ropes

October 07, 2014

Valley Park Playground
Grandview, MO
July, 2014

Berliner, Chimes Company, Playground Grass, Custom Canopies product lines

What was the ultimate vision for the playground?

The City of Grandview wanted to provide residents with an accessible playground that would encourage and challenge kids of all ages and abilities to play and come back on a regular basis.

“Conceptually,” said Eric Lucas, Director, Department of Parks & Recreation, “we wanted to create a playground that was unique and would challenge users each and every time they visited the park, all the while providing transparent sight lines that provide easy supervision of the playground by parents, neighbors and local law enforcement. Working with ABCreative and Berliner allowed us to meet and exceed each of these goals and produce a finished product that is a game changer for playgrounds in the United States.”

What sets this playground apart?

Valley Park Playground Rope Play

Traversing from Berliner Net Funnel to Pegasus.

The City of Grandview, Missouri, was looking for a park and playground unlike any other – a unique play opportunity that took advantage of the topography and treed setting in the park.

The site of the playground is very compact; however, the playground design used the topography to achieve additional play value allowing the kids to travel up, down and over different terrain in a very safe way.

The park utilizes all rope structures enabling the kids to play on the entire site without touching the ground until shooting out of the one-of-a-kind 55-foot long custom-made stainless steel tube slide at 7 mph! Other features include a spinning tree, swings, a zip line and percussive musical instruments such as bells.

And the kids are coming to the park! During its first month open, there were 23,919 visits for an average of 747 per day!

What challenges did the project encounter?

Valley Park Playground Swings

Berliner Double Cloud 9 saucer swing.

Much of the playground sits on a rock ledge, which made planning all infrastructure, including drainage, equipment layout and footings paramount. Working closely with the landscape architect and engineer, we insured the end result accomplished and exceeded the vision.

Because the park is in an area set back off the road, supervision was very important. Using the Berliner play equipment allowed for transparent sight lines through the entire playground by parents and law enforcement.

Dave Bueker, a CPSI with 25 years of playground installation experience, added, “Keeping a rope play structure tensioned is key for durability, longevity and above all safety. Berliner is the only brand we have experienced that simplifies tensioning and overall maintenance for a safe, fun, long-lived structure.”

Partnership and coordination: critical elements.

The general contractor was tasked with completing all of the surrounding park work while allowing the playground installation to proceed at the same time.

“ABCreative, Berliner Seilfabrik, and ForeverLawn Playground Grass had the quality products we needed to create our distinctive and versatile playground,” said Brian Hochstein, Project Manager for MKEC Engineering Inc. “They offered excellent customer service, provided design assistance, solved problems quickly and always answered our design questions.”

This was a large project on a tight deadline that required a great deal of coordination between ABCreative and all of our manufacturers and installers, along with coordination with the general contractor.

The park and playground opened on time and our work was completed on budget to the penny.

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All comments (2)
  • Lynn Swedberg
    December 31, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    I'm curious how kids who use wheelchairs access and utilize the rope structures, especially since they are approached on a grass surface which isn't too […] Read MoreI'm curious how kids who use wheelchairs access and utilize the rope structures, especially since they are approached on a grass surface which isn't too accessible if there is rain or mud. The heading calls this an accessible playground, but I also don't see anyone with an obvious disability using the structure. Is there someone I can contact for more information? Our city is looking at a similar structure for a new playground. Thanks so much! Read Less

    • Tim McNamara
      @Lynn Swedberg
      January 16, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      My apologies for this slow response – still catching up from the holidays. These are great questions and I appreciate you asking! Re. Grass surface: The […] Read MoreMy apologies for this slow response – still catching up from the holidays. These are great questions and I appreciate you asking! Re. Grass surface: The ‘grass’ safety surfacing used for Valley Park is actually a synthetic grass called ForeverLawn Playground Grass which is a safety surfacing system specifically designed for playgrounds. One of the specifics this turf provides is wheelchair accessibility according to the ASTM F1951 Standard. Playground Grass is designed to drain very quickly - more than 30 inches per hour so the surface will be playable within a very short time after a rain. You can learn more about this product here: Re. Rope structures accessibility: Your question focuses on a child in a wheelchair or mobility device and I’ll answer that first. The Berliner rope products we represent and that were used at Valley Park in Grandview are designed to be ‘ground level’ based. In other words there are accessible transfer points around the entire structure. This also means there are no designated entry points on the structure like there are on a more traditional post and platform structure. No designated entry points encourages decision making and adds a great deal of interest for the players. In addition, Grandview has three parks that feature Berliner play equipment. The largest and most popular is Valley Park which opened late July, 2014. The park department placed a people counter at the entrance to the playground and after two years of being open, the playground still attracts an average of more than 10,000 visitors per month – all 12 months of the year. Close to one quarter million visitors and not a single reported injury and not a single reported accessibility complaint. Grandview Parks Department has reported to me seeing cars at the park on weekdays from at least seven different states. Many busses of children are brought to the park and there is a large contingent of home schooled children that meet at the park. I’ve also been told by the park department about adult age people with physical disabilities who come to the park on a regular basis for the sole purpose that they enjoy the challenge of the structures. When you are considering accessible play it’s very important to remember that physical disabilities are a very small percentage of disabilities that children might have. We received one comment from a parent that called us to comment how much he enjoyed taking his three kids to Valley Park because one of his children is autistic. His comments were very positive and he ended with (paraphrasing) “when my kids are on the play equipment at Valley Park, they’re all the same”. Read Less


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