Farmington officials plan public meeting on design of all-abilities park

Attraction is planned for 7.65-acre site where Tibbetts Middle School once stood

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
Students in the San Juan College fire science program take a run around the track on Aug. 24, 2021, at the old Tibbetts Middle School property, the planned site of an all-abilities park.

FARMINGTON — Progress on Farmington's first all-abilities park is expected to move into high gear over the next few months, beginning with a meeting designed to solicit public input on the attraction that will be held next week.

The meeting is planned for 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 11 at the Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St. It will include city officials and representatives of MRWM Landscape Architects, the Albuquerque-based firm that was hired by the City Council to design the park under a $160,000 contract.

During a 10- to 15-minute presentation that will kick off the meeting, MRWM officials will present some concepts for the park, then listen as audience members respond to those concepts and offer ideas about what they would like to see, according to Christa Chapman, a marketing and public relations specialist for the City of Farmington.

The design for the park is scheduled to be completed in August, Chapman said.

The design ideas that will be proposed at the meeting will be posted online on a website devoted to the project at fmtn.org/1149/All-Abilities-Park, where residents can leave feedback. Chapman said MRWM staff members also will be conducting community surveys to solicit input.

The park will be located at a 7.65-acre site that formerly served as the home of Tibbetts Middle School. It runs along East Apache Street between North Dustin Avenue and North Dustin Avenue.

Jesse Lopez, left, and his mother Nikki Marks, sit on the grass on Aug. 24, 2021, on the old Tibbetts Middle School property in Farmington where city officials plan to build an all-abilities park.

Members of the Farmington Municipal School District Board of Education voted in August 2021 to deed the property to the City of Farmington. The idea of creating an all-abilities park is one that has been discussed in Farmington since at least 2018.

A news release from the city describes the park as the first fully inclusive, accessible and adaptive playground in San Juan County. It says the park may include such features as accessible play equipment, a pedestrian path and loop trail, play/activity areas with perimeter fencing and special surfacing, sensory play areas, visual impairment areas, therapeutic elements, outdoor musical instruments, adaptive swings or wheelchair swings, sports areas, shade structures and restroom facilities with changing amenities.

The city received a $300,000 National Recreation and Park Association Resilient Park Access grant to cover the cost of the construction design documents. On the park's website, city officials have estimated the total cost of the project at $10 million.

Farmington officials have examined all-abilities parks in other cities to develop ideas for what such an attraction here should include, she said, including a park in Rio Rancho and one in Round Rock, Texas. She said ideas about how such attractions are built have changed considerably over time as developers learn more about the best way to integrate various elements into public spaces.

More:Farmington City Council accepts donation of Tibbetts land to create all-abilities park

"We know some parts of the community are really excited about this," she said, referring to the fact that public support for such a project in Farmington has been strong. "But this should be a park for everybody."

Anyone interested in donating money for the project can do so by calling Marilyn Montoya of the Tibbetts All Ability Park Foundation at 505-330-4811 or emailing taapnm@gmail.com.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.