The Edmonds dog park next to Marina Beach Park (Photo courtesy David Kaufer)
Dear Edmonds City Council Members:
Our community prides itself on its inclusive spirit and its commitment to ensuring that every member can enjoy the amenities and beauty of Edmonds, regardless of their abilities. Mika’s Playground in Civic Park is a testament to this commitment, proving a popular and valuable addition to our city. To truly embody the spirit of inclusivity, there are important areas where our efforts must continue to improve.
It is clear from Mika’s Playground’s success that investing in accessibility is not only the right thing to do, but also a smart one. The joy and laughter it brings to children and families, regardless of their physical abilities, enriches our community and fosters an environment of inclusivity and understanding. These investments have a positive impact on the social and cultural fabric of our city. It also attracts visitors from outside the city.
Still, we have a long way to go before we reach complete accessibility. There are glaring needs that we, as a community, need to address promptly. Let’s look at the dog park next to Marina Park, which needs to be upgraded to accommodate those in wheelchairs. I agree with the suggestion to install an aluminum or plastic metal mesh between the gate and the bench. This addition would ensure that the park is accessible to everyone, preventing wheelchairs from getting stuck on the beach. The success of a similar installation in Meadowdale Beach Park serves as a compelling precedent, proving the feasibility and effectiveness of this solution. While the cost may vary depending on permitting requirements and other unknowns, the benefit it brings in making our popular dog park inclusive cannot be overstated.
Similarly, we should also look at Seaview Park, one of our many cherished green spaces in our city and also home to our first inclusive playground. Ironically, the park is not accessible for wheelchairs and the park’s northeast portion requires a modest investment to address this need. A simple addition of a small path leading to the asphalt and an ADA-compliant van or car parking spot would make a significant difference. There would also be modifications needed to the path to ensure the grade met ADA guidelines. The estimated cost of this project again is difficult to estimate but it is likely a small price to pay for the substantial impact it would have on making the park enjoyable for everyone — especially those it was designed to serve.
A dog park accessibility improvement request first made in 2018 remains unfulfilled, and Edmonds cannot ignore this issue any longer. Like a fish left out too long, this has lingered and festered, and it’s time to take action. As a community, we must not let our efforts to promote inclusivity become stale or stagnant. All our parks and public spaces should be welcoming and accessible to everyone as soon as possible.
Investing in these accessibility improvements is not merely a fulfillment of a civic duty; it’s an investment in the well-being and unity of our community. It’s a commitment to upholding the values of inclusivity and respect for all individuals. The cost, when compared to the immeasurable value of community enrichment and the joy of our fellow citizens, is minimal. It should also be noted that the city has a legal obligation, under ADA laws, to ensure public buildings and spaces are accessible for all.
Let’s continue to build on the success of the Civic Park and Mika’s Playground. Let’s make Edmonds a model city, where accessibility is not just a token gesture, but a deeply ingrained value. It’s time for us to come together and ensure that our actions reflect our commitment to making Edmonds a city where everyone, regardless of their abilities, can thrive and enjoy all that our beautiful community has to offer.
— By David Kaufer
David Kaufer lives in Edmonds.