New design for Discovery Garden Park in McFarland adds more natural play options

Posted by on Oct 5, 2017 in News | Comments Off on New design for Discovery Garden Park in McFarland adds more natural play options

New design for Discovery Garden Park in McFarland adds more natural play options

FROM THE MCFARLAND THISTLE–The future of Discovery Garden Park adjacent to E.D. Locke Public Library is going to be focused more on natural elements and creating more specific space functions. The McFarland Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Committee recommended the Village Board approve the park concept plan. Committee member and Trustee Dan Kolk said at the Sept. 28 meeting the park has been losing its functionality, especially when it came to the possible use for library programming. “They want a lot of their programming to flow out into the park space,” Kolk said.

Additionally, it had been suggested to make Discovery Garden Park accessible to all children of different ability levels. The village hosted a survey available for public comments plus took feedback from library staff.

Jeff Maloney, a principal designer with Vandewalle & Associates, used that data to create a plan removing much of the current structures, including the sandbox and metal train, and creates separate zones with specific functions. Maloney said the zones would be: performance and gathering, open play space, discovery area and playground, and a quiet area. 

The performance and gathering space would be located on the southwest portion of the park with a semi-circle of stump and boulder seating that would be used for storytelling and small group activities.

The open play space would be in the center of the park and have a domed grass surface. This grass surface could also be used for seating at larger events held in the park.

Located just a bit south of the open space would be what Maloney referred to as an active or natural play zone featuring a series of obstacles and climbing features suitable for a large range of ages. This would include natural elements such as boulders and tree stumps plus two rock climbing walls – one for younger children and ones for older children.

A net and arches playground structure would be placed on the east side of the park. This structure would be accessible to children of all ages and abilities. Just west to the playground equipment would be the discovery zone. This zone would have a sensory garden with a variety of scents and textures for children to explore. The discovery zone would incorporate an existing tree.

A concrete path would be placed along the southwest part of the park and would run parallel to Long Street. This area would serve as a quiet zone with log and stone seats plus a seat wall. Maloney said this would be the space for children who need to step away from activities and a spot for people who want to read outside. The quiet zone would be separated from the rest of the park by a seating wall. On the opposite side of the seating wall would be a small hill suitable for a children’s play area.

The existing green space on the northeast part of the park would be expanded, and picnic tables would be added for extra seating.

The surface of the park would be a multi-colored rubber, but not shredded rubber. The fence along Long Street would be replaced with a row of hedges.

“I like the natural elements,” said committee member and Trustee Sean O’Hearn. “We don’t have much natural play space in other parks that I can think of.”


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