Hoover breaks ground on playground with ‘universal’ design

Published 5:07 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2018

HOOVER – A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Wednesday, Sept. 19, at the site of a planned 15,000-square-foot playground that will be the first of its kind in Alabama.

The EXPLORE playground and splash pad, which will be located adjacent to the RV lot at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex, will be developed with a universal design—to meet the needs of all people regardless of age, gender, ability or change in ability.

“The EXPLORE playground and splash pad will be a great addition for not only the Hoover community, but our entire region,” Hoover Mayor Frank V. Brocato said. “This playground will allow children of different ability levels to play next to one another as well as provide parents the opportunity to play with their children regardless of their abilities.”

The playground will feature a 17-foot clubhouse, active and musical play areas, a variety of swings, textures and bright colors.

The clubhouse will contain a variety of textures, sensory components and a television display to encourage seek-and-find activities throughout the playground. For the more adventurous there will be a zip track as well as a Rockin Robin for those looking for a quiet area.

Ample shade and picnic tables will be located throughout the area.

In addition, a 7,000-square-foot fully-inclusive splash pad will be located adjacent to the playground. People of all ability levels will have the opportunity to enjoy playing in the water as well.

A specially outfitted family restroom will also be located in the playground and splash pad area.

The EXPLORE playground and splash pad complex is a $2 million project and is made possible due to the contributions of the local state legislative delegation, Jefferson County Commission, local businesses and charitable foundations, according to officials.

The project is expected to be completed in January 2019.

About $1.87 million has been raised for the project.

“We are extremely thankful to everyone that has contributed to make this project a reality. This facility will truly serve the people throughout Alabama,” Brocato said.

At the ceremony, the mayor recognized Dee Nance, community services officer for the city who is leading the project.

Mary Allison Cook, a Hoover resident and communications coordinator at Lakeshore Foundation, said as a parent special needs, she understands the amount of planning and work that can go into tasks, such as taking children to a playground, that seem simple to most.

“But then I come across places that have done the planning for me,” Cook said. “This park is one of those spaces.”

Jeannie Colquett, executive director of The Bell Center and mother to a special needs child, said she was not surprised to hear that social media users expressed willingness to drive three hours to the playground when completed.

“All we ever want is for our children to have a place and a community,” Colquett said.

J.A. Dawson serves as the project manager over the playground and splash pad. The playground components are manufactured by Gametime, which is based in Ft. Payne.