A park for everyone! That was our goal for the new riverfront park that was being designed and it didnt disappoint.
In August 2015, AWS Foundation made a $200,000 grant to the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne. With the $100,000 match funds from Lilly Foundation, there was $300,000 to ensure the proposed new park would be accessible.
But what did that mean?
In partnership with The League and with Turnstone, a focus group was assembled at Design Collaborative to review the proposed design as initially drafted. In a room filled with experts in landscape architecture, planning, park design and operations, a group of 10 individuals and their families, representing a variety of abilities, bravely provided their ideas and critiques. They each wanted the park to be their park. In that group were individuals with visual impairment, Parkinsons, spinal cord injuries, Down syndrome, arthritis and other disabilities. Suggestions were well received and plans were redesigned.
On August 9, the residents of the City of Fort Wayne saw what happens when the goal is to build a shared public space following principles of not just ADA, but universal design.
- Kids will play side by side in the inclusive playground with a rubberized solid surface base.
- Concerts can be viewed from any location of the grass lawn for those in wheelchairs, or others with walkers or strollers because of the solid base.
- Every level of the seating at the riverfront amphitheater is accessible by ramps.
- Easy in and out of kayaks because of the floating dock.
- Doors to the pavilion spaces are all equipped with electric door openers.
- Accessible bathrooms include family restrooms within the pavilion and adjacent to the beer garden.
- Easy and safe entrance to the accessible Sweet Breeze canal boat from the south dock.
- Tree canopy trail has easy entrance for all from street level with gradual ramping and strategically placed benches for resting along the path.
- A tactile ribbon circumnavigating the park (along with a follow along 3-D relief map) for those visiting with visual impairment.
- Water features including a splash pad within reach for all.
- Even the worn surface of the iconic Wells Street Bridge was refinished to a smoother surface to minimize gaps and provide a less bumpy path to traverse the St. Marys River.
The city park commission and area donors and businesses all joined in ensuring accessibility was within their funded area of the new Promenade Park. Opening day crowds were, as we had hoped, representative of a cross section of northeast Indiana. The smiles on everyones faces were the reward for the work of so many.
A special thank you is extended to all who played a role in the park visioning, design, creation and implementation. It was a truly collaborative gift for all.