Over 500 children and 300 adults living in Story County with special needs will benefit from the new Ames Miracle League Field and all-inclusive playground at Inis Grove Park. The core project purpose is:
- Helping to facilitate a community vision that encourages inclusive play and social equity.
- Developing a plan with strategies and tactics for addressing community concerns and site challenges.
- Creating a unique and valued vision that encourages donations and community investment.
The project was led, managed, and supported by a diverse Snyder & Associates’ team comprised of landscape architects, engineers, and surveyors. As the prime project consultant, we championed all plan components and served as the direct contact to the client and Miracle League Committee. A site inventory and analysis of existing park uses, natural features, and circulation was completed to help guide creation of the master plan.
Overcoming Local Park Location Concerns
Working with city staff, we helped facilitate public engagement while developing and preparing the park master plan. Community education and outreach materials were provided on Miracle League requirements along with universal and all-inclusive design principals. During the public outreach and input process, we also addressed misconceptions regarding accessibility, ADA requirements, and playgrounds. Concerns over the location of the park were fielded by our team and addressed while achieving the goals of the larger community. Key concerns and solutions include:
- Stormwater Management – Stormwater will be captured and treated on-site using a series of stormwater basins.
- Traffic & Parking – Other than the addition of five accessible stalls marked to accommodate Miracle League activities. Existing parking areas are expected to meet user needs.
- Noise – Audio equipment will be used in a limited capacity and is primarily for the Miracle League Field game use to show support for athletes. Sound will be directed toward viewers and away from neighboring residents to mitigate noise concerns.
- Visual – Strategic tree plantings will complement and extend the nearby natural, wooded environment into the play area, provide a visual buffer from neighboring properties, and increase shade within frequently used areas.
- Safety – A fence along the ravine will help support safe play and recreation for all users.
- Lighting – A controlled LED lighting system reduces glare and provides a bright, uniform light source directed onto the field. Use of controlled lighting will also protect from light pollution in the sky and onto neighboring properties. Light placement is based on the need to light the field evenly and ensure the ball in play is lit from all sides.
Embracing the Natural Setting & Site Constraints
Seizing the opportunity that arises with project challenges, we were able to make steep topography of the site work to benefit the project. Several trees along the immediate tree line were identified as damaged and in need of removal. As a result, the opportunity arose to move the playground further north, tucking it into a small opening amongst the trees and maximizing the use of available space. The play area was also strategically laid out with several unique nodes based on development levels with a variety of sensory components.
Key park improvements and master plan components to promote equitable play and access include:
- Miracle League baseball field
- Custom, all-inclusive playground
- Sensory donor plaza
- Entrance features
- Parking lot drive and marking updates
- Electrical outlets for food vendors and the Miracle Field
- Relocation of the existing playground to the Red Oak Shelter
- Accessible and gender-neutral restrooms
- Basketball courts with adjustable hoops
- Tennis courts (surface & fence)
- Open picnic and seating areas
- Small shelters with picnic tables
- Planting beds and trees
- Bike parking
Ramps and slides utilizing the existing topography along with rubberized surfaces help support safe, all-inclusive play and access for individuals with mobility challenges. Accessible trail routes throughout the park connect amenities with the neighborhood and regional trail network. The playground will have a nature theme with a natural color scheme to mimic the park’s natural surroundings. Different styles of playground equipment offer varying levels of challenge for different ages and levels of development.
Slated for completion in summer 2018, the project strives to provide a sensory rich, developmentally appropriate and unique experience for all users regardless of intellectual, sensory, or mobile capacity.
With a strong dedication to promoting and expanding all-inclusive play opportunities, Snyder & Associates has also contributed to the successful development and implementation of Miracle League Fields in Ankeny and Urbandale.