A playground that is unlike any others in Joplin has been installed at Landreth Park.

Parks Director Paul Bloomberg said parks staff has a few details to finish, but the playground should be ready within the next week or two.

“It is the first one in the parks system that is highly inclusive,” where anyone of any age can play with designs that particularly accommodate children with disabilities and those who use wheelchairs and other mobility aids, Bloomberg said.

While there is the Will Norton Miracle Field at the Joplin Athletic Complex and a number of swings for children with disabilities in various parks, this one has features not found in the others.

“What makes this playground unique from others is we have a lot of ground games for kids to play,” Bloomberg said. “We have a lot of spinning chairs and we are bringing back a merry-go-round that playgrounds used to have, but this one is modernized. All of it has inclusive access with ramps and a concrete access point into the mulch,” complying with standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. That means there isn’t a designated access point to the playground; a child in a wheelchair can drop into the playground at any point around the perimeter.

Bloomberg’s goal is to convert to soft-surface ground covers for playgrounds in all of Joplin’s parks. Cunningham Park has one now and there are two soft-surface playgrounds at Parr Hill Park. The reason is, “it’s ideal for accessibility,” but the cost is much higher than the ADA-compliant mulch, he said.

As for features, the Landreth Park set offers two traditional slides, “but the main playground, unlike other playgrounds in our parks, is more inclusive other than the Miracle Field,” the parks director said.

There are access ramps that lead to the interactive games for play. “They also lead to an amenity to wheel yourself down into a shaker basket device,” Bloomberg said.

It is a playground system manufactured by Play Core, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which specializes in manufacturing inclusive playground systems. The Landreth Park playground is registered by Play Core as one of its national demonstration sites, which permits the company to collect ongoing data for continued study of best practices of playground design.

As part of that, there is a sign with a barcode at the playground that people can scan with a smartphone to take a survey about their experience for the company’s research.

The playground equipment cost $72,000. Parks department staff is assembling and installing it so that the city’s money could be spent on extra features for the playground set rather than paying a contractor for installation. Two of those employees are certified playground inspectors who are qualified to check the quality of Joplin’s playgrounds, the parks director said.

The playground should be finished by the week of April 26, unless rain interferes with the project. The last pieces to be installed will be shade canopies. “This will be one of our first playgrounds that will have shade structures,” he said.

“It will be a fun park,” Bloomberg said. “It’s filled with a ton of new stuff.”

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