Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Leave It Better: Accessible Park Hits a Home Run

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Leave It Better: Accessible Park Hits a Home Run

Article excerpt

Surprise, Ariz., brings baseball and soccer to athletes of all abilities.

Project:

DreamCatcher Park, Surprise, Ariz.

Problem:

The 2000 Census revealed a startling statistic to the city council of Surprise, Ariz.-more than a quarter of the population was composed of people with disabilities. It was just the fact that Mayor Joan Schafer needed to illustrate the need for a fully accessible park, a vision she had been trying to realize since taking office.

Solution:

With community input, Surprise's city council planned DreamCatcher Park, a fully accessible facility. But it is the kind of accessible activities it provides that makes it stand out from similar sports complexes. Children of all abilities can play baseball, soccer and rugby. The baseball field is made of artificial turf, making wheelchair maneuvers easier. There is an overlay for the field that will allow it to be used for soccer as well. The dugouts are wide enough for wheelchair access, and all bathrooms and concession stands comply with ADA standards. The bases on the field are 50 feet apart, a shorter run than the standard 90 feet. The facility is as comfortable for athletes as it is for spectators who enjoy shaded stadium seating.

DreamCatcher Park provides a playing field for people with disabilities, as well as a shaded spectator area.

Timeline and Costs:

The initial planning for the facility began in 2002. The city gave the goahead for construction when it approved the plan in August 2004, and the park went from vision to reality when it opened on March 27. …

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