Renovation project begins for new playground at Mercerdale Park

May 29, 2021 | by Wendy K. Leigh

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Previous playground equipment at Mercerdale Park; a new playground is planned to open late summer

It’s hard to imagine summer without a romp through Mercerdale Park. Located at the edge of Town Center, the park holds decades of memories for Mercer Island families who’ve picnicked, played, and enjoyed walking, biking, scooting, and skating in the 12-acre property. Mercerdale Park’s playground, known by many as the “Train Park,” has closed for a full revamping – but, fortunately, the construction won’t put the entire park on hiatus. 

So why is a change for the playground in store? Most playground equipment is designed to last from 15 to 20 years, and the Mercerdale structures have reached year 19. Mercer Island’s Certified Playground Safety Inspectors, who conduct inspections on a routine basis, made the call – the well-loved structures are worn out and no longer meet safety standards. In addition, the underground drainage system and clogged pipes require major work as well.

The 5000-square-foot playground area will retain its current footprint, but innovative design elements allow accommodation of the spacious new layout approved by the City Council and Mayor Wong on May 18th. The Mercer Island Preschool Association (MIPA) donated $20,000 toward the improvements, and the Mercer Island Parks and Recreation assisted in evaluating design options.

Here’s what to expect when the construction equipment finally disappears, along with the trucks, flaggers, hardhats, and engineers. Yes, a train will still be there, albeit a spiffy new one. The entire space has been carefully designed with new play structures and a focus on accessibility and inclusion. 

New playground design rendering | Image via City of Mercer Island

According to a report from Let Kids Play, the playground design is officially Certified Inclusive, offering seven out of eight types of physical play and engaging all five of the sensory systems used in their analysis.

 “Every child can have a meaningful play experience, whether wheeling in to drive the train or climbing up to the top. The train offers physical, sensory, and social experiences. So not only is it the ‘coolest thing,’ but it is also accessible to all,” states the report.

You’ll also notice new environmentally friendly rubber surfacing in the playground area, which replaces ground chips that broke down over the years and clogged the drainage system.

New playground design schematic | Image via City of Mercer Island

Paul West, the city’s Capital Projects and Planning Manager, gives a heads-up on what the renovation will look like over the coming summer months. First of all, a hint of when the playground will reopen: late summer, though that could change as things unfold. In the meantime, the rest of Mercerdale Park will remain open, with minimal disruption. 

“Trucks will be driving through the park occasionally in July and August to deliver materials to the site,” explains West. “These trips will be controlled by flaggers and will typically close the spur path to 34th Street for 15 to 30 minutes at a time.”

Planners will work to minimize blocking of the main circular path around the park, and users can expect a forewarning about intermittent path closures. 

Visit Let’s Talk Mercer Island for detailed information and to view virtual public-meeting videos about Mercerdale Park renovations. 

2 Comments

  1. Good story about the Mercerdale playground renovation. An active coalition of citizens formed in January to encourage the city to make the new park fully accessible and TRULY inclusive. MIPA, MI Rotary, Moms4SafeMI, and others came together and worked closely with City Council members, City staff, Parks & Recreation Commission, etc., to make this happen. A great example of how concerned citizens can make a difference and bring about positive results.

    Comment by John Hamer — June 8, 2021 @ 11:32 am

  2. Thank you for this great background, John! I appreciate what amazing advocacy is consistently happening in our community.

    Comment by Erin Sirianni — June 9, 2021 @ 11:21 pm

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