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Creating New Adventures in Existing Park Spaces by Upgrading Park Amenities

Parks not only provide a space for people to relax and connect with nature, but they also foster community spirit and promote physical activity. For many communities, however, dedicating increasingly limited open space to create new park areas is not a practical solution. With a full-service landscape architectural team, Snyder & Associates has been vocal in promoting the value of upgrading park amenities for existing park spaces. These park amenity upgrades can have a significant impact on the community, promote inclusivity, increase recreation choices, and overall, provide a more positive and fun experience for users.

All-Inclusive Playgrounds Bring Everyone Onboard

Approximately 13% of children in the United States are served by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Yet, this broad segment of the population is often lacking when it comes to safe, sensory-appropriate playground facilities. While ADA requirements call for accessible pathways to playground equipment, an appropriate ratio of ground-level play activities versus those higher up on the structure, and transfer platforms for children with mobility devices, inclusive playgrounds go a step further. These facilities are designed to be welcoming, engaging, and challenging for all children and provide opportunities to develop cognitive, sensory, physical, and social skills.

The specialized surface and numerous ramps at the Ankeny Inclusive Playground make the structure fully accessible to all users.

All-inclusive playgrounds feature a variety of environments where children can engage at their own pace and sensory input level. They are also welcoming to parents and caregivers, many of whom may have a disability, as well. Noteworthy aspects of these parks include custom-designed, rubberized coatings that provide a flat, cushioned surface, free of obstacles. Using extensive ramp systems, these playgrounds can even include “two-story” play structures where individuals with mobility devices can access both stories of the equipment and enjoy unique views of the surrounding area.

In addition to ramps, sensory-rich play features and specialized swings are also added to provide a space for children to play together and provide the opportunity to teach children valuable lessons about diversity and empathy. Our team has been instrumental in the planning, design, and installation of numerous all-inclusive playgrounds around the Midwest, including the following:

All-Inclusive Playground & Baseball Field: Ankeny Miracle League

All-Inclusive Recreational Opportunities: Urbandale Miracle League Field & Playground

ADA-Compliant Ramps, Walkways, Paths, & Trails

Of course, making the entire park accessible to all is essential in promoting inclusivity. ADA-compliant ramps, walkways, paths, and trails make it possible for people with mobility issues to move around easily and safely and enjoy all the amenities a park has to offer. This can include adding ramps to play structures, creating smooth paths through the park, and providing accessible picnic tables and benches. These upgrades not only benefit people with disabilities but also parents with strollers and older adults who may have difficulty navigating uneven terrain.

Park Master Planning: Ames Miracle League Field & Playground

Restroom Buildings with Local Flair

Kiwanis Park Bathroom and drinking fountain

The restroom building in Pella’s Kiwanis Park mimics the aesthetic of local architecture.

ADA-compliant restroom buildings are another essential amenity that should be included in any park upgrade project. One of the primary advantages is the convenience that it provides, especially for families with young children. Adding a restroom structure also creates the opportunity to design a building that mimics local themes or landmarks that can enhance the aesthetic appeal of the park and provide a unique experience for visitors. This can also promote a sense of community and pride in the local area, as the park’s design reflects the history and culture of the region. Overall, adding themed restroom buildings to local parks is a simple but effective way to improve the overall park experience for visitors while also contributing to the community’s cultural identity. Our design work for Pella’s Kiwanis Park is a prime example of putting this idea into action.

Inclusive Playground & Park Improvements for Pella’s Kiwanis Park

Open-Air Shelters and Picnic Areas Create Gathering Spaces

Open-air shelters and picnic areas are other essential park amenities that can be added to provide a space for people to gather and socialize. Upgraded picnic areas can include shaded structures, BBQ grills, and improved seating options. These shelters can also provide a space for community events and gatherings, like outdoor concerts or movie nights. Explore how our team has developed numerous park plans that seamlessly incorporate open-air shelters to fit the park aesthetic without overwhelming the natural landscape.

Low-Maintenance Landscaping and Hardscaping

Upgrading the landscaping and hardscaping can reduce maintenance costs and improve the park’s appearance. Low-maintenance landscaping can include drought-tolerant plants and native grasses that require less water and fertilizer. Hardscaping upgrades can include replacing gravel paths with concrete or pavers, reducing the need for regular maintenance, or permeable paving which allows rainwater to infiltrate the ground, reducing runoff and erosion. These upgrades can also make the park more attractive and inviting to visitors.

Recreational Options Include Adding Pickleball & Tennis Courts

While tennis has long been a popular recreational option in community parks across the country, pickleball has rapidly expanded in popularity and surpassed tennis’ reign among recreation seekers. Conveniently, however, both sports can share the same space, saving on development and maintenance expenses. Popular upgrades that our team has developed for countless facilities include resurfacing courts, adding lights for night play, upgrading nets and complex fencing systems, providing spectator seating areas, and improving access walkways and paths. These upgrades can attract more players and promote healthy competition and physical activity.

Recreational Tennis & Pickleball Courts Thriving in Parks & School Districts

Skateparks Gaining in Popularity

aerial photo of skate park and climbing structure

The Young’s Park upgrades in Knoxville included this custom-designed skatepark.

Skateparks are another amenity that has been gaining in popularity, in both community parks and as standalone facilities. Adding or upgrading a skatepark can provide a safe and fun space for skateboarders, rollerbladers, and BMX riders, and have the added benefit of attracting teens and young adults to the park. Upgrades can include the addition of more features, like half-pipes and rails, and improving the quality of the concrete while new construction options are practically unlimited in their configurability, features, and size. Our design team has developed plans for countless skateparks, ranging from small, community park venues, all the way up to one of the largest skateparks in the country.

Competition-Level Skatepark Comes to Des Moines Riverfront

Young’s Park Upgrades Create Destination Hub for Region

Upgrading park amenities not only provides opportunities for physical activity and relaxation but also fosters community spirit and promotes inclusivity. Snyder & Associates architectural landscape team actively promotes the value of upgrade opportunities for existing park spaces and has been instrumental in the planning, design, and installation of numerous park additions that have included these custom amenities. By incorporating one, or several, of these options into park upgrades, communities can create safe, welcoming, and engaging spaces for all visitors, promote physical activity, and enhance their sense of community.

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