After four long years of research, planning, fundraising and navigating the city’s bureaucracy, a new playground is on the way to Flag Pole Hill.
When local nonprofit For the Love of the Lake (FTLOTL) was almost 20 in 2014, members decided they wanted to take on a substantial project to mark their second decade stewarding White Rock Lake Park. They decided to install a new playground at Flag Pole Hill that would be accessible to children and adults of all ages and ability levels.
In 2015, fundraising began. With help from the City of Dallas, Jordan Spieth Family Foundation, the Exchange Club of Lake Highlands, the Lake Highlands Junior Women’s League and the Lake Highlands Women’s League, the project set to break ground this spring.
The project already has gone out to bid and is slated for completion this September, says Robb Stewart, Park Board representative for District 10.
The playscape includes an element called a Boomerang, which is a large green climbing structure with nets and rope swings. It will be the first of its kind in the state, Stewart says.
Another apparatus, called the Supernova, allows children to spin, similar to a merry-go-round. Former FTLOTL board member and occupational therapist Vail Fassett advocated for elements that allow children to spin, as experiencing dizziness is an important part of brain development.
Outdoor play “facilitates sensory processing by offering opportunities to slide, swing, spin, touch, jump and climb,” she wrote in a letter to the city. “These skills are necessary in order for all of us to explore our world and cope with various environments.”
The playground, which was designed to be fun for a wide range of mobility levels, is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. “ADA compliant doesn’t mean ADA fun,” says Elisabeth Akin, liaison for the Flag Pole Hill playground project and former executive director of For the Love of the Lake. The elements are meant to be engaging for neighbors of all ages.
The project will move forward with a mix of astroturf, spongy material, wood decking and wood fibers. FTLOTL representatives hope to raise an additional $150,000 for fencing and to cover more of the playscape in spongy material that better suits those with shuffling feet and wheelchairs.
Stewart says that FTLOTL will need approval for fencing and additional spongy covering from the Park Department. He says that wood fibers are necessary for the health of the trees in the area.
FTLOTL consulted special needs advocates such as Special and Gifted Education in Richardson ISD and C.C. Young senior living to make sure the new design is fun for the whole family. La Terra Studio designers, who created the inclusive playground at Texas Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital, incorporated many of the same elements into their Flag Pole Hill design.
See more images of the playground below, and visit For the Love of the Lake to donate.