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Parks & Recreation Wins Statewide Award for Park Design

Highlands Park Renovation Wins Park Planning and Design Award at State Conference

Post Date:03/29/2019 10:33 AM

Highlands Park PlaygroundSan Carlos Parks & Recreation received an Award of Excellence from the California Park & Recreation Society for the Highlands Park Playground Renovation. San Carlos’s recognition in the category of Park Planning and Design was honored at the California Parks & Recreation Society Conference & Expo, held in Sacramento, CA, March 19 – 22, 2019.

The community gained significant benefits from the Highlands Park improvements. The previous layout and design of the park elements were deficient in functionality and creativity. The City identified several areas where the site lacked accessibility.  The design team addressed the grade issues of the pathway to the upper Stadium Field where the slope did not meet ADA requirements. As Stadium Field is used by youth sports groups year-round, as well as open for informal recreational use, creating a grade that met ADA requirements became one of the priorities of the project objectives. The original play area surfacing was also lacking in accessibility elements. The City opted for poured-in-place rubber surfacing in order to create an accessible and safe surface. Improvements to the access path as well as to the accessible play surfacing resulted in creating a space for people of all ages and abilities to access and enjoy. 

The design team was also faced with creating an enhanced play area that was challenging for kids. The old play equipment was dilapidated and lacked elements of creative play. Highlands Park is utilized by hundreds of people per day, and although the park’s other recreational facilities offer substantial benefits to the community, the rundown play area didn’t meet the expectations of the community. The new playground provides a wide variety of play elements for children of all ages and encourages explorative and imaginative play in a natural setting in a small and compact space that is much safer than before. The creative design of the seat wall provides a gathering place for park users to watch children play while building community by encouraging socialization among parents and caregivers. With these specific design goals identified at the start of the project, the City and landscape architects were able to create an all-around improved park.

According to Amy Newby, Parks & Recreation Director, “The CPRS awards program is the highest recognition our agency can receive and our award is a credit to the combined efforts of staff, SSA Architects, Parks & Recreation Foundation of San Carlos and others that made this happen. We are honored to receive this award on behalf of our residents.”

CPRS Executive Director Stephanie Stephens states, “These agencies represent the finest in initiatives addressing community issues, recreation programming, park planning, facility design, and marketing and communications in California. Park and recreation agencies throughout the state provide families, individuals, and groups access to the serenity and inspiration of nature; spaces and places for play and exercise; opportunities for directed and self-directed recreation; positive alternatives for youth to reduce crime and mischief; and activities that facilitate social connections, human development, therapy, the arts, and lifelong learning. CPRS and our award sponsors, RJM Design Group, Inc., Little Tikes Commercial and SVA Architects, are proud to recognize excellence in park and facility design, community initiatives, recreation programs, and marketing and communications.”

The California Park & Recreation Society presented awards in 5 categories: 

  • Creating Community Award of Excellence
  • Excellence in Design – Park Planning
  • Excellence in Design – Facility Design
  • Marketing & Communications Award of Excellence
  • Professional & Service Awards

CPRS is a membership organization with just over 4,000 members representing the 535 local parks and recreation agencies throughout the state. The mission of CPRS is to advance the profession and its members through education, networking, resources, and advocacy.

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