News Article Details

County gives $1 million to build special playground at Willow Glen Park

San Jose Mercury News - 2/1/2018

Feb. 01--Lincoln Glen Park is one of several parks in Santa Clara County getting a shot of cash this year for an all-inclusive playground.

Willow Glen's popular community gathering spot received an infusion of $1 million last week from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors for construction of a playground that will accommodate the needs of children with autism spectrum disorders, developmental and physical disabilities and other impairments.

The extent and type of work done "must be designed to make the playground accessible not only to the 10 percent of those with disabilities in wheelchairs, but also to the 90 percent of those with disabilities who are not in wheelchairs," a county parks and recreation department memo states.

Councilwoman Dev Davis, who represents the Willow Glen neighborhood, told the Resident she is "excited to build an accessible playground that not only meets the needs of all children but brings together children of all abilities to play."

New features and amenities could include custom all-inclusive playground equipment, interactive fencing, shade structures, safety surfacing and fitness areas designed for all ages and abilities, according to San Jose parks and recreation department deputy director Nicolle Burnham. An inclusive play area was planned for Lincoln Glen Park in 2002, and "since that time significant advancements have been made in the theory and practice of all-inclusive play," she added.

"The grant will allow us to renovate some areas that have been well-loved, as well as provide a wider range of modern play experiences for seniors, children and parents with disabilities," Burnham said.

Lincoln Glen's history as an early communications hub for San Jose could make an appearance at the play area in the form of stamps and postal images. One of the city's first post offices next to the park site was frequented by the Pony Express, Burnham said, adding that project planners will "seek to honor this history through the design."

Half a dozen cities requested anywhere from $300,000 to $2 million from a $10 million grant program set up last year to fund construction of all-inclusive playgrounds throughout the county. Half of the grant is funded through the general fund and the other half through Measure A, a one-eighth-cent sales tax increase passed by voters in 2012 that can be used for any county purposes such as emergency room services and housing for the homeless. Every city must match the amount of money received from the county as part of the agreement. San Jose's $1 million match will come from the District 6 parks budget, according to Davis.

Former San Jose councilman Pierluigi Oliverio, who is running for county supervisor and approved numerous parks renovations during the 10 years he represented District 6, said the county should "have a public discussion on spending priorities rather than proposing another tax increase for 2018."

Oliverio called the playground program "a worthy goal for city government to implement with private funding," but noted that the money could also be used to create a housing voucher program.

"This same amount of money would provide 400 homeless individuals shelter for one year, which is worth consideration," Oliverio said.

The design phase is expected to take more than a year and include community workshops for public input. Construction should begin by June 2020 and be done by summer 2021.


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