Basin Recreation to install first all-abilities playground in the Wasatch Back

PARK CITY, Utah —  Over the last year, the team at Basin Recreation has worked with Big T Recreation to design the new playground facilities at Willow Creek Park. The team is excited to add an all-abilities playground to provide children of all ages and abilities with a safe and inclusive place to play. The new Willow Creek playground will be the first all-abilities playground in the Wasatch Back.

Upgrades to the two play sites include ground suitable for wheelchairs, crutches, and other mobility aids and wider ramps and through-ways for those in wheelchairs. Basin Recreation consulted the National Ability Center and Big T Recreation on aspects of the design to get the best insight possible from experts.

“The design process took about six months to complete and included participation from several stakeholders,” said Taft Egan, president of Big T Recreation. “The overall goal of Basin Recreation was to create an inclusive environment that would become a gathering place for the entire community. After several design concepts, the theme of “connect with nature” was selected. The custom playground incorporates many different animal play sculptures and nature-focused bio mimicked play activities.”

The current Willow Creek playgrounds were constructed in 2005, and with new playground technology and features, the team is excited to improve the user’s experience. Both playgrounds at Willow Creek Park will be deconstructed and replaced, with little to no change in the overall footprint. Basin Recreation aims for late July to begin the demo process and predicts start to finish the project will take approximately three months to complete.

“The new play space will have both tactile and musical components — incorporating sensory play elements into playgrounds is an excellent way to make them more inclusive, enriching, and engaging,” Egan said. “One design aspect that makes this playground unique is that it incorporates ‘parallel play,’ meaning the playground includes different routes of travel parallel (or next) to each other, allowing children of all abilities to play side-by-side, further amplifying the community benefits of an all abilities inclusive playground.”

In 2021, Basin Recreation submitted a Summit County RAP Tax Grant Application for this project, and the District was awarded $1,358,763 in funding to be used for the construction of the all-abilities playground equipment. The great outdoors was the inspiration for the designs, with animal features, nods to nature, and lots of shade for those hot summer days. The smaller playground will feature a music garden, climbing feature, and swings.

“We have been involved very heavily in the design of the playground,” District Director Dana Jones said. “This is not a project where we just opened a catalog and said, ‘We’ll take that.’ This has been specially designed to offer the youth of the community a new way to play.”

Basin Recreation wants to remind the community that there will be impacts from the construction to park users for a little while. The Willow Creek pickleball, tennis, and dog park facilities will remain open, but users should expect limited parking during this time.

“We urge people to have a little patience when we’re in the middle of the construction, but I think that the results will definitely be worth it,” said Jones.

While we wait, staff recommends visiting the Trailside Park or Matt Knoop Park playgrounds. Willow Creek Park is located at 4460 Split Rail Lane in Park City, UT and is open from dawn to dusk.

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