It has taken a while to complete, but on Thursday Provo opened its first Unlimited Play Center at North Park, 400 West and 500 North.
The opening featured the release of several butterflies to represent the freedom the new play center will bring to children in the city.
“Provo is known as a wonderful place to live with a diverse variety of recreational opportunities, but Provo Parks and Recreation noticed that it was missing something important,” said Doug Robins, assistant director of Parks and Recreation. “About four years ago, Provo Parks and Recreation initiated a project to address an underserved part of the community, children that for one reason or another, often get left out of the opportunity to play.”
Mayor Michelle Kaufusi noted that Parks and Recreation facilities like this are gathering spaces, places where the community comes together.
“These parks are the great equalizers in a community, open to everyone regardless of background, they are places that we share and value together,” Kaufusi said.
“They are the places where families gather together to celebrate, and they also provide relief to the community during hard times. Just remember how much we missed interacting at our favorite parks, trails and recreation facilities during this pandemic,” Kaufusi added.
Places matter in our lives and that’s why such pride is taken in creating outdoor spaces worthy of being the backdrop to your memories, Kaufusi noted.
“Now this playground is special. I love this idea that has now become a reality as the Unlimited Play Center,” Kaufusi said. “I can think of no better symbolic gesture than a butterfly release to represent how we hope every child will feel at this playground, free to roam and explore, uninhibited by only their curiosity — never their ability.”
Kaufusi welcomed everyone, on behalf of Provo, to the Unlimited Play Center, “because everyone deserves a place to play.”
In 2018, city staff began working with a committee of residents and experts to discuss how to extend recreational opportunities to all children in the community.
“Following multiple design committee meetings, a needs survey and a design open-house to gain public input, the solution was the creation of a unique play space at North Park adjacent to the Provo Recreation Center at 500 North 400 West. This new playground features environments where all children will find opportunities to participate and enjoy the social, cognitive and physical health benefits of play and inclusion,” Robins said.
Designed by Landscape Architects with G. Brown Design, the site features:
- Accessible elements – pathways, ramps, surfacing and a massive concrete slide.
- 2 Zip line tracks — running parallel so that you can race your friend down the track.
- Lots of different textures, colors, sounds, adventures and challenges
- But also, quiet places and space that is not so busy.
- Elements for the entire family — seat walls near amenities.
- Swings and amenities for multiple participants.
- Preserving existing trees where possible, not easy — been here forever.
- Water-efficient landscaping.
- Fencing, gates and landscaping is functional without the feeling of confinement.
- Convenient accessible parking.
- New pavilion with accessible picnic tables – allowing multiple families to drop-in.
With a total project cost of $964,000, funding came from Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and the Provo Recreation Arts and Parks (RAP) tax. Private donations also were received from doTERRA, Zions Bank, Larry H. Miller Foundation and Eagle Scout Enoch Robertson.
“The design was successful in creating a fun and inclusive park around existing shade trees, giving the impression that this new playground has been here forever,” Robins said. “The Unlimited Play Center is now the largest playground in the city, and we appreciate the ongoing support of Provo’s mayor and city council in our effort to deliver next-level recreation facilities to the community.”
The play area and all other activity areas at North Park will be open throughout the summer for residents to come and enjoy, including the Pioneer Village and the outdoor pools.