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South Salt Lake Journal

New ‘all-abilities’ park honors mother-daughter volunteer team

Jan 26, 2021 02:41PM ● By Bill Hardesty

Part of the Hedra showing some of the various activities available at Bickley Park. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

South Salt Lake continues to show its desire for inclusion with the new Bickley Park that opened Dec. 24, 2020. The park, located on the north side of the Columbus Center (2531 S. 500 East), has a unique purpose of welcoming kids of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.

“Our city has always had a diverse population—not just cultural and economic, but also people with different abilities,” Sharen Hauri, Urban Design director, said. “We are very proud of this history, and our city’s Equity Committee really got involved in the park design to make sure we did a deep dive on how the park could appeal to a diverse group and just as importantly, encourage them to play together. Many of the elements need a partner to play with—time to make a new friend!”

The property was purchased from Mabel Todd’s family in 2017 for $500,000. The city spent about $650,000 on building the park.

“The city has talked about adding a park to the Columbus Center since we bought it 20 years ago. We are so grateful to the Todd family for working with us to make this possible. We also were so honored to name it after Ida and Laurie Bickley, city residents and volunteers, who embody the ‘play for all’ spirit. We hope it was worth the wait,” Hauri said.

All-abilities park

The most prominent feature of the new park is a large geometric-shaped structure filled with various activities for kids. Multiple entry points allow children to experience discovery and fun on the structure. All the items, including a slide, rope walk and numerous ways to climb or sit and enjoy the environment’s tactile sensations, are designed around four development benefits: sensory, motor skills, cognitive skills and social/emotional skills.

“We thought a lot about how to get parents and grandparents playing too, and not just sitting on the sidelines. But the most unique item of all is the Hedra playground by Landscape Structures,” Hauri said. “It almost looks like a spaceship landed there, and you get to figure out how to get inside it. The Hedra has so many nooks and crannies to climb into, onto and through. It is a great place to play hide-and-seek and king of the hill. And we felt it was the most ADA accessible playground out there today.”

Another imposing structure is the Global Motion Spinner. The Spinner is a two-level structure that allows children to sit inside or hang on the outside. According to Landscape Structures, “A patented progressive resistance makes it easy to turn the Global Motion at slower speeds and prevents it from being turned too quickly, providing a fun and challenging experience while still feeling safe and in control.”

Landscape Structures’ We-saw is another unique feature. It is an updated version of the traditional seesaw. The We-saw is wheelchair accessible. It has scooped seats and a gentle rocking motion allowing kids of all ages and abilities to use it.

Every park needs swings. Besides the traditional swing, there is a friendship swing. This swing allows two kids to swing facing each other or enables a parent or grandparent to swing with a child. There is also a molded bucket seat with a harness allowing children with limited upper body strength to swing.

The park also has a metallophone and a drum set for everyone to explore the power of rhythm and enjoy making music.

Another exciting aspect of the playground is the playing surface. It is bouncy, providing a more comfortable surface to roll or walk across. It also reduces the chances of serious injury.

“This is a rubberized fall surface, which is the safest surface and the most accessible. It is also the most expensive, so this is used on less than half of playgrounds built today,” Hauri said. “We have a similar surface on two recently built fitness courses in the city, but those are covered with artificial turf instead of the topcoat of rubber.”

Ida and Laurie Bickley

On Dec. 9, the South Salt Lake City Council unanimously approved a resolution to name the newest city park after Ida and Laurie Bickley. Ida and Laurie are a mother-daughter volunteer team. Ida is 94, and Laurie has Down syndrome. Together they volunteered at the Columbus Branch Library three days a week for 14 years until it closed in November of last year. 

Laurie significantly brightens the patron’s days with her smile. Together they would organize bookshelves and prepare for library events.

“We are honored to mark the impact of ordinary citizens on our City’s history, fabric and community,” the SSL website stated.

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