New material helps accessibility at Farmington parks

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
The city of Farmington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs has added engineered wood fiber to help children with disabilities as pictured on Monday at the playground at the Farmington Indian Center.

FARMINGTON — Farmington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs has been making upgrades at local parks to make them more accessible for people with disabilities.

According to Christa Chapman, a spokeswoman for the PRCA, the mats on three playgrounds have been replaced with engineered wood fiber, a synthetic fiber that resembles mulch. The playgrounds are located at the Farmington Indian Center, Lower Rio Vista Park off of Cliffside Drive and Northridge Park off of Carlton Avenue.

Chapman said the engineered wood fiber stays flat when wheelchairs roll across it, which makes it accessible to people with disabilities.

Branda Parker, the executive director for San Juan Center for Independence, said most playgrounds in the country have dirt, sand and rock surfaces. She said this makes it so wheelchairs, walkers and other tools used for accessibility can get stuck.

Parker said she gives the city kudos for doing something to increase accessibility rather than just talking about it.

Parker said increasing accessibility to playgrounds benefits both children with disabilities and parents with disabilities. She said parents who are in wheelchairs will be able to push their children in the swings and take their children to the playground.

Chapman said the mats that were in place were also designed to be accessible for people with disabilities, however they did not stay flat and the sand beneath them could be messy.

Chapman said the engineered wood fiber is safer, more stable and less messy.

However, because the engineered wood fiber is a loose material, it does move around. Chapman said the ramps on the playgrounds were extended so that there would not be a ledge if the material moves. Chapman said that most of the ramp extension is covered by the engineered wood fiber.

Chapman said the department plans to add the engineered wood fiber to playgrounds throughout the city.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at