By Mikael Krummel

The dream embracing construction of Arc Park boasts powerful tailwinds. The park is a unique, new community playground and event space in Springfield. The Arc of Lane County’s mission promoting rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities was central to initial plans for creating the special park. Over seven years, a groundswell of Arc Park backers grew to include kids and parents, business leaders, architects, builders, educators, human service professionals, and a host of project donors.

Originally, a handful of parents of disabled and autistic children approached The Arc concerned about the lack of safe, accessible park spaces in our community. Local parks and schoolyards are often not fenced — a particular problem given the tendency of many autistic kids to wander off. Add concerns over the fact that most public play areas are not easily accessed by physically disabled youth: think muddy grounds, woodchip surfaces, and minimal walkways.

Arc Park reflects notions of “universal design” — a core concept that frames the park as a resource for all community members regardless of age or disability status. The space is intended for youngsters, adults, and seniors alike.

Arc Park architectural design rendering from Jim Schmidt of The Satre Group, Eugene.

Kids have helped plan the park from early on when The Arc invited three dozen youngsters to brainstorm project possibilities using markers, crayons, magazine photos, and butcher paper. Excited young designers responded with a loud call for swing sets and a pirate ship play structure.

June’s Phase 1 opening of Arc Park celebrates the establishment of several impressive park elements like Toddler Town and Lane Forest Products’ donation of stunning Northwest-themed landscaping using premium artificial turf plus wood fencing enclosing the entire park. And then there’s the fully-accessible, two-story, Comcast Amphitheater, where this summer’s entertainment includes movies, theater, and musical performances.

Over the next two years, the park will add a wealth of other features like the Community Village’s water play areas, accessible sand boxes, and “hiding holes.” A basketball court, picnic grounds, fitness area, Pirate’s Cove, and other themed play areas will offer swings, a zip line, and a “sensory wall” featuring animal sounds and images. Arc Park invites everyone with their slogan:

“Where we all play!”, arcparkspringfield