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Region's first all-abilities playground opens in Dublin

Source: Written by Ryan Degan for the Pleasanton Weekly

Dublin achieved a major feat toward its goal of making city recreation facilities more accessible to all residents last week when it officially opened Imagine Playground, the Tri-Valley's first all-abilities playground.

Located at Dublin Sports Grounds on Dublin Boulevard and Civic Plaza, the $5.06 million project was unveiled at a grand-opening ceremony on March 6, where local officials and community members alike gathered to mark the occasion and appreciate the new facilities.

"The city saw a tremendous need for this project, not only in Dublin, but in the greater Tri-Valley region," Dublin Mayor Melissa Hernandez said in a statement. "The feedback from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. I can't wait to see this playground being used and enjoyed."

Breaking ground in October 2019 as an all-abilities space at the popular Dublin park, the Imagine Playground includes an all-inclusive picnic area, upgraded landscape, parking facilities, and pathways to improve accessibility and connectivity to other park features including various sports fields and a new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant restroom facility, city officials said.

To complement the new facilities, a new public art piece "Conversation" by artist Barbara Grygutis has been installed near the playground, which will be illuminated every evening for visitors. City staff said the piece is intended to emphasize the "uniquely human ability to transcend difference and find common ground through conversation."

Imagine Playground was designed with input from a number of individuals and organizations throughout the region who work with people with special needs, including Dublin Unified School District special education teachers, sports field user groups, Little League Challenger Baseball and the School of Imagination, according to city officials.

Popup booths were also strategically placed at Dublin events in late 2018, to gauge the pulse of the community and gain input on what the all-abilities space should include.

Staff added that $1.4 million of the funding needed to create the playground was secured by State Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda), who acquired the funds through a California Department of Parks and Recreation grant.

"Every year at this stage we get to decide where our hard earned dollars go, and there is no question that a first-of-its-kind playground like this in the Tri-Valley is something that I as a mother of three ... wanted to participate in," Bauer-Kahan said at the opening ceremony for the playground.

"I've spent endless hours on playgrounds watching my kids play and learning what it means to play with one another and that's what we need so much right now with the kids out of the classroom," she added. "The openings of projects like this is what's going to bring our communities together and give our children the childhood that they need."