Exclusive: First look of accessible features at Promenade Park

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – We are now 20 days out from the grand opening of Fort Wayne’s newest park and WANE 15 is getting an exclusive look at some of the new features that promise to make Promenade Park accessible to everyone.

AWS Foundation CEO, Patti Hays, took our cameras on a tour of the park Saturday. Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation teamed up with her organization, and others, to come up with the park design.

She first showed us the tactile ribbon carved out in the concrete, which a person with visibility issues can use as a guide by following along with their canes.

“They will feel with their cane the texture in the concrete and as they follow this, it would go all the way around the park, so as we walk, watch and see, it’s really going to give us a path,” Hays explained.

The ribbon may appear to be just part of the concrete design, but really makes a world of difference. Even the seams in the concrete have a purpose. They give people with Parkinson’s disease their next visual to walk to – making it easier to get around the park than if it were just pure white concrete.

“Everybody else is just going to walk through the park and not think anything of it, but now you are going to and there’s a lot of things like that that are hidden,” added Hays.

There is also a pair of unique swing sets near the pavilion which Hays said could give individuals with sensory issues comfort because of the repetitive motion.

The next stop on the tour was one of the center pieces. The Park Foundation Pavilion will house the Trubble Riverside Cafe and Tap. Some things to pay attention to there are the automatic door openers and the bathroom stalls.

“All the stalls have an element of accessibility, not just one, so there is one that has a five foot turning radius, which is ADA requirement, but they all have railings, or hand rails rather, that just little extra space that is necessary,” said Hays.

All of these features were thought out and planned with help from community members.

“We tried, by doing focus groups, to get people with a variety of disabilities to tell us what needs to happen so that they will come,” Hays explained.

To end our tour, we walked down to the north banks of the Saint Mary’s River between Harrison Street and the Wells Street Bridge to find the kids playground. There you will see a musical play area and slides that take kids down to a padded rubberized solid surface that helps wheelchairs move through. The goal was to make a playground that is integrated where kids with and without disabilities can play.

“Hopefully we’ve made good enough selections that side by side, will enjoy, play with each other, and appreciate each other’s abilities.”

Making Promenade Park accessible to everyone was the mission and according to Hays, each of these features gives it that much more potential.

“And that you’re doing this story is great because the idea is to encourage people who have a disability or whose family member has a disability to come out, don’t take that attitude that this place is not available to you.”

Dedicated disability parking can be found along Wells Street.

The three-day grand opening of Promenade Park begins Friday, August 9. There will be activities throughout the park’s many areas beginning Friday and going into Sunday the 11th.

On Saturday, park officials said crews were finishing up landscaping and repaving work, but everything should be ready for the big opening.

WANE 15 will have live coverage of the grand opening beginning that Friday of the 9th on First at Five. Our coverage will continue through the weekend both on air and online.

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