Oakledge Accessible Playground

Let’s Create Vermont’s First Inclusive Playspace!

Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront (BPRW) is embarking on another playground upgrade, this time at Oakledge Park, and it’s going to be designed specifically with accessibility at the core of design. BPRW is partnering with P.E.A.S.E (Play & Engage in Accessible Spaces for Everyone) to make it all happen.

The Oakledge Universal Playground will be the first of its kind in Vermont. After several years of research and preparation,  P.E.A.S.E, in partnership with BPRW, are taking the first steps towards making this incredible new facility a reality. Groundview, a talented, creative and award-winning design firm, has been engaged to guide the design process.

BPRW and P.E.A.S.E. need your input! There will be multiple opportunities for community input during the design process.  Get involved in Burlington’s next great play facility!


The term “universally accessible (UA) playground” is often used to describe a playground that offers caregivers and their children full use of all areas, regardless of ability. Vermont, with its amazing state and local parks, lacks universally accessible play areas for children and their families. We believe that UA playgrounds provide opportunities for play for EVERYONE. Accessible playgrounds support social, physical and cultural diversity, all within a common environment. The construction of a UA playground will make our community stronger.

The UA playground will replace the existing playground at Oakledge Park, a regional park in the south end of Burlington. In 2015, BPRW conducted a siting study which identified Oakledge as the ideal home for the future UA playground. Oakledge offers a gorgeous natural setting, recreational resources, connection to the Burlington Bike Path, access to Lake Champlain, and can serve a regional user base.

The Vision:

Key components of UA playgrounds include:

  • Raised play areas (for mobility challenges)
  • Structures that provide clear access for engagement (Autism, cognitive disabilities)
  • Accessible surfaces between all playground components & parking (for mobility challenges)
  • Natural playscape with quiet green spaces (for anxiety challenges, and physical, cognitive, and adaptive development)
  • Inclusive equipment (for physical challenges)
  • Color contrast (to support those with visual impairment)
  • Components for caregivers w/ disabilities (accessible bathrooms, water fountains, seating, transportation, parking, and access to all play areas)
  • Accessible exercise/rehabilitation equipment for adults.

The 7 Principles of Universal Design:

  1. EQUITABLE USE: Universal Design is inclusive design and does not segregate; ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate.
  2. FLEXIBLE USE: Each individual will interact with the playground in their own way.
  3. SIMPLE AND INTUITIVE USE: Play features should be clearly understood immediately by children of all ages, physical ability, or cognitive ability.
  4. PERCEPTIBLE INFORMATION: People learn in various modes so design information to appeal to the many senses (Visual, auditory, experiential, etc.).
  5. TOLERANCE FOR ERROR: The ability to try something and fail safely while still being challenged.
  6. LOW PHYSICAL EFFORT: The design should take into consideration the effort required to get from one play feature to the next.
  7. SIZE AND SPACE FOR APPROACH AND USE: Consider the wide variety of body types, sizes, and abilities.

In case you weren’t able to attend the workshops, but would still like to share your ideas, please send us an email. We want to hear about the things you’d like to include in the playground too!

The Third Public Meeting


At the third public workshop/charrette on Wednesday, 6/22, Groundview Design shared final conceptual drawings for Vermont’s first Universally Accessible playground, planned for the existing playground site at Oakledge Park.

Set against incredible aerial imagery provided by the UVM Spatial Analysis Laboratory, project landscape architects Will Martin and Eden Dutcher have developed captivating and easily understandable imagery of the proposed play space. Accessible highlights include: adventurous and artistic landforms, interactive water play, in-ground trampoline & spinner equipment, non-messy tactile play and a unique musical elements. From the Bike Path and lakeshore, the play space is shielded by an open, grassy slope, and runoff from the site is channeled into a system of rain gardens.

The designs take into consideration many aspects that serve to enhance the experiences of kids and adults with special needs. Changes in ground texture and vibrant color variations help those with visual impairment. Quiet spaces are included to offer safe places for those that are easily over-stimulated. The winding paths that climb to a wide slide provide a sense of adventure for everyone, including caregivers!

Now that the concept phase is complete, the next phase will be fundraising to make this vision a reality!

View the final presentation as a PDF: Oakledge UA Playground Community Workshop 03 – EDITED





The Second Public Meeting

We reviewed the next round of concepts. GroundView presented two concepts to comment on. Both were amazing plans that included creative play features while offering unique schematics that related to the landscape and lakeviews differently.

This time we discussed the details of what play features were most desired and the overall layout we all preferred. It was almost unanimous that the curving playful path and prominent hill featuring a wide slide was the winning concept.

Flip through the presentation PDF: 20160511 Oakledge UA Playground Public Workshop 2 Presentation FINAL


The Successful First Workshop!

Thank you to everyone that came to the Workshops on April 12th and May 11th on at Champlain Elementary School and shared ideas with us! It was an informative meeting presented by BPRW Director Jesse Bridges, BPRW Project Coordinator Jon Adam-Kollitz and our design partners from GroundView – Eden Dutcher  and Wilson Martin. Presenters reviewed the project history that began with the formation of advocacy group Play & Engage in Accessible Spaces for Everyone (P.E.A.S.E), who have conducted extensive research, site visits and laid a strong foundation for the project. BPRW staff reviewed the lessons of the Parks Master Plan and the Oakledge Siting Study (the first of its kind in the Burlington system), and how they have guided the location selection and project goals/program for the universally accessible playground.  Before dividing the attendees into breakout groups, GroundView reviewed what they have learned through spending time at the site, reviewing the siting study, and their initial meeting with BPRW staff. It is clear that GroundView knows that Oakledge is a special place and this project needs to reflect that. Leading into the collaborative charrette, Will and Eden inspired the attendees by  sharing photos of projects that emphasized artful use of landforms, vegetation and loose materials, exhibiting unique & playful approaches to working with the landscape.


View the presentation below or download the PDF.

Here are some related topics discussed:

Will there be accessible water access?

  • The Oakledge Siting Study locates a “wheels to water access point” at the beach (similar to what exists North Beach).
  • Also recommended is reducing the number of informal footpath access water access points adjacent to the playground site and “hardening” the access paths that remain.

Will the bathrooms be made accessible?

  • The Upper Pavilion restrooms were recently renovated and made accessible.
  • The Lower Pavilion restrooms will be evaluated for accessibility improvements in conjunction with playground development.

Will accessible parking be reconfigured and affordable at Oakledge?

  • The Oakledge Siting Study proposes a redesign of the Upper & Lower Pavilion parking lots. The Lower Pavilion parking shows 6 new ADA spaces, directly adjacent to the playground site.
  • Accessible placards for ADA spaces.
  • Affordable parking pass options.

Is there a dog park planned for Oakledge?

  • Yes, while not part of the UA Playground project, there is both a fenced and off-leash area for dogs included in the Oakledge Park Siting Study.





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