Following San Mateo Parks and Recreation Commission’s support for a new Adventure Village Central Park playground design, city staff is now moving forward with suggestions for design changes, including more bike racks and places for strollers.
“They were very supportive and excited about the preferred design,” Parks and Recreation Director Sheila Canzian said. “They didn’t really have major changes that they were interested in making.”
Several commissioners asked for an elevated boardwalk for part of the playground, more opportunities for kids with scooters and to have the consultant, RRM Design Group from San Leandro, explore ways to make sure bicycles couldn’t reach unwanted places on the playground.
City staff will talk with RRM about the feasibility of the site amenities and details of incorporating suggestions into the plan but expressed optimism the suggestions can be implemented.
“We are not at the stage yet of actually having construction drawings, so these are just ideas and feedback at this point. I think most of these are doable and can be incorporated into the design,” Canzian said.
The adventure village design concept features a series of towers and walkways elevated off the ground to let kids be closer to the trees in the playground area. The towers would stand alone and be away from trees and include a series of ramps and platforms. A wizarding tower, hobbit house and elf tower are mentioned. A rope tunnel, climbing wall and fairy garden with a playhouse is included. The design gained broader public support because it fits into the character of the park. Site amenities like bike racks, drinking fountains, picnic areas, benches and design are still in the concept design phase. Everyone was excited the playground will integrate within all of the existing trees and match the setting, Canzian said.
“I think that’s probably the overriding comment that we heard from the public as well as the commission, is how well the design is integrated into the existing trees that are on-site,” Canzian said.
Initial input on the design began in October 2019. The new playground would be on the existing site and replace the current 27-year-old structure. Park renovation was a priority goal in the San Mateo Central Park Master Plan, a 2018 update aimed at preserving the 16-acre park’s history, better serving the needs of users and facilitating a downtown connection. Potential construction is at least two years out.
RRM is still working on cost estimates for the project, with park in-lieu fee funds being saved over the past five years. The balance currently is $7.5 million, with another $1 million budgeted for the 2021-22 year.
A second design concept called playful history was under consideration and offered gardens, trees, a traditional carousel ride and a playhouse. It is no longer an option after the commission decided to move forward with adventure living. Its Victorian playhouse structure concept recounted some of the earlier park’s history and included a musical garden. The design was focused on presenting a playhouse experience. Several features from playful history the public liked were incorporated into adventure living, such as a zip line, bronze sculptures and a musical garden.
Once city staff is ready to bring the changes back to the commission, it will also give the public the chance to provide additional feedback. The public has expressed support for the adventure living design over the playful history, based on two June workshops and an online survey that helped shape the current design.
“The reason that this was chosen was because when we went out to the public workshops in June and in the survey, this one was preferred overall by members of the public, and so that’s the one that we went with,” Canzian said.
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