On Tuesday, October 25, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris presented the city of Irvine with $2.8 million in state funding that will be utilized to develop a universal playground at Sweet Shade Neighborhood Park.

The implementation of the universal playground follows the city’s recent renovation of the Sweet Shade Ability Center. The center was renovated in 2019 to provide residents with a more accessible hub for disability services.  

The universal playground will be a first for Irvine, and will be designed with multigenerational play components, along with adaptive access activities to support individuals with disabilities. The playground will feature a sensory garden, an adaptive swing and will be wheelchair accessible.   

universal Playground Irvine

The funds were presented during a ceremony which was attended by Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan and Irvine Council Member Anthony Kuo. During her comments, Khan thanked Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris and said the addition of the universal playground speaks to the inclusivity of Irvine, adding that providing residents with the highest degree of services is her main focus.     

“Ensuring Irvine is an inclusive city that offers all residents access to equitable services and opportunities is a top priority for me and the City Council,” Khan said. “The universal playground will be the first of its kind in Irvine and will support our existing efforts to provide services for individuals with sensory, physical, or cognitive disabilities, and their family members. I am grateful for the support from Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris for this partnership in providing this remarkable resource.”

Speaking on the earmarked funding, Petrie-Norris echoed Khan’s gratitude. 

“I’m so proud to have secured $2.8 million in the California state budget to renovate Sweet Shade Park in the Westpark neighborhood of Irvine, to be inclusive of all abilities,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine). “The new STEM and outer space theme will provide exciting interactive sensory learning for special needs individuals, and I can’t wait to see kids come together to enjoy this phenomenal resource in our community.”

Sweet Shade Neighborhood Park sits on nearly eight acres of land near Westpark in Irvine. Construction on the universal playground is expected to begin in spring with an estimated completion date arriving in 2024.   

Albeit the city’s first universal playground, Irvine is no stranger to accolades regarding its park space. In June, Irvine’s park space was ranked eighth nationally in the Trust For Public Land’s ParkScore Index, with nearly 20% of city space dedicated to parks. 

With a median national ParkScore of 19% for total park space, Irvine’s 37% of total park space doubles the median of more than 14,000 cities and towns in the ParkServe database.

Out of a total of 100, Irvine received a score of 83 for access, a score of 77 for acreage, a score of 93 for investment, 68 for amenities and 62 for equity.

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