Residents celebrate the opening of the new playground.

It didn’t take very long at all for a group of elementary school-aged children to take over a very tall, very purple spinning net Saturday after city officials cut a ribbon to open the North Beach Playground. The spinning web is one of two rope structures that replaced a pair of rusted swings near the Jonathan Club with the goal of giving families on the north side of the city a park at the beach.

The ribbon cutting at 810 Pacific Coast Highway marked the end of a 3-year-long revitalization, as Santa Monica’s youngest community members gave the $2 million project its official review.

“We tried to use equipment that was unique, fun and looked good too,” said architect Patrick Tighe, as he watched the first wave of children bring his park to life. “All of the equipment is accessible for children of all abilities.”

The North Beach Playground is Santa Monica’s third universally accessible park, removing traditional barriers that may hold children with physical, cognitive, vision or hearing disabilities back from the rest of the group. For example, kids can climb stairs, hop on round, purple bumps or roll up a ramp to move from one space to the next. The playgrounds also have additional space around structures for wheelchair access and feature for kids who learn through touch.

“I guarantee you, every playground we build from now on will have the same sorts of features this one does, meaning it will be a place where no matter what your abilities are you will be able to play and enjoy it,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Gleam Davis.

The new playground has distinct spaces for 2 to 5-year-olds and the older crowd, with the net structures providing imaginative space for kids up to 12-years-old.

The city began soliciting public feedback on the project in 2015 through an online survey about playground use and favorite types of equipment. The resulting swing-set has a large oval for group swinging, a regular swing, and a yellow swing with back support and a seatbelt for children with disabilities.

Planners selected the area to bolster park offerings on the north side of the city. Recreation and Parks Commissioner John C. Smith said the new park has a great location for families heading out to a day at the beach.

“It’s right at the foot at the stairs,” Smith said while pointing at the Montana Avenue pedestrian overpass from Palisades Park, “below the cliffs, right on the bike bath, right up against the restrooms.”

The City Council awarded the $2 million construction contract to C.S. Legacy Construction, Inc in Dec. 2017 to build the park. The construction fencing officially came down Friday.

Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press

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