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[whitespace] The city's first park designed with disabled kids in mind will open next year in Willow Glen

Willow Glen--Willow Glen will be getting the city's first disabled-friendly playground, and city officials say construction is set to begin by year's end. The Lincoln Glen Play for All Playground will be located at the corner of Curtner and Lincoln Avenues, next to the Willows Senior Center. It will occupy just under an acre.

Play-for-all is a term coined by the park's designers, Moore Iacofano Goltsman, a Berkeley-based design consulting firm. They are the same design architects that created Campbell's Jack Fischer Park on Pollard Road, the only other park in the South Bay designed to accommodate children of all physical and developmental abilities in the same play area.

"We have people call us all the time asking where Jack Fischer Park is...," says Jim Norman, deputy director for the city's department of parks, recreation and neighborhood services. "They love it because it's fun and it's creative. Little do they know, it's a play-for-all type of guideline. That's what we hope will happen here."

The Willow Glen park will feature a tot lot, youth lot and water play area. The play structures will be designed so that a child in a wheelchair could roll directly into a structure and play, without pulling himself out of the chair or needing assistance. The various structures would accommodate play for disabled and nondisabled children.

"We are incredibly excited about this project," says Edith Ramirez, an aide for Vice Mayor Frank Fiscalini, whose office spearheaded the $650,000 project. "I think it's going to be very well received by the community."

Says Norman, "Children, regardless of [whether they're] challenged or not, are children, and they want to play and be as creative on top of structures or in structures. What this does is put able-bodied kids and kids in chairs on the same apparatus, in the same location, without one child having to crawl around or pull themselves up. So it really becomes a way to mainstream able-bodied kids and physically challenged kids."

Later this summer, the city will kick off a series of neighborhood meetings to get community feedback about the park's design and play structures. Although typically limited to the immediate neighborhood, Norman anticipates a large turnout for the meetings.

"Because of its interest, we will probably have a bigger draw and a bigger audience than just the immediate neighborhood...for the parents of physically challenged kids, they may come from all over the city to talk about it," says Norman.

"It's amazing how a city of this size does not have a single tot lot designed for disabled children," he adds. "Hopefully, this project will be such a success that we'll want to do it again in different areas in the city."

For dates and times of the Lincoln Glen Play for All Playground community meetings, call 408.277.4573.
Sarah Gaffney

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