A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

At Albany’s Lehigh Park, changes in store

Written May 17th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

The poster on a stick announces planned changes at Lehigh Park in Albany.

A reader in the Lehigh Neighborhood was intrigued by an online poll about changes the Albany Parks Department has in mind for the playground in the neighborhood park.

“Interesting,” her email to me said. “THEY have it planned but asking for input. We are a mostly senior neighborhood.”

What’s this about? To learn more, I took the bike to Lehigh Park on Tuesday, May 16. Here, take a look:

All around the park there are posters illustrating the kinds of improvements the city has in mind, with a QR code to an online poll. The sixth and last question: “What is your feedback about the improvements coming to Lehigh Park?”

I asked Parks and Recreation Director Kim Lyddane what prompted this project and what it would cost. This is what she told me:

“The Lehigh Park playground has been on the update list since the 2006 Master Plan. We are able to use some CDBG (federal community development block grant) funds to help augment our department’s budget as Lehigh is in a low/mod area. It’s a beautiful park with the playground set back off the road. Because of the playground location, we thought it would be wonderful to focus on play elements that have a sensory component for those in our community who could benefit from a quieter play environment. We have been hearing from the community that we need to provide more types of inclusive play (2021 Master Plan, surveys, etc.) so we are making a conscious effort to include elements in any of our projects. If everything goes smoothly, we will order the equipment in July for an installation by our park maintenance team in the fall (equipment takes several months to arrive).  Between our departmental funds and the grant funds, we have $200,000 to cover the project.”

The “sensory” aspect had me stumped. Lyddane explained that in terms of play equipment this is “anything that can help stimulate the senses: musical elements, tactile (pieces that roll/move, Braille, etc.), and different materials that make it easier to access equipment, etc.  Sensory friendly play could be helpful for those who are maybe on the spectrum, who get overstimulated easily, or have different developmental/physical needs.”

She said the equipment being considered includes a “friendship swing” which can accommodate a child and parent or caregiver facing each other.

Also, the playground plan includes “musical panels, a communication board, and a play structure which has lots of different areas to explore on different levels.”

The posters also mention an “omnispin,” which I gather allows kids to sit inside something like a big rotating bowl.

In my eyes the playground already has one main attraction, an old-fashioned metal slide that’s tall enough to be fun if you’re 6 or so. Elsewhere such slides have been taken down. Too bad.

But what do I know about slides? Dinosaurs roamed the earth when I was six. (hh)

The present Lehigh Park playground. Now that looks like a neat slide!

12 responses to “At Albany’s Lehigh Park, changes in store”

  1. Bob Woods says:

    Editorsaurus Albasenus I’d guess….

  2. Shawn Maestas says:

    Where is this?

  3. Bill Kapaun says:

    They use QR codes and expect seniors to have a clue what that even means? Pretty easy to manipulate a poll to the “younger” element. Don’t they have the GUTS to do a door by door poll by mailing or door hangars?

    Common sense and honesty obviously takes a back seat to “warm & fuzzy”.

  4. CHEZZ says:

    Revise the Master Plan by moving this project to a later date. Playground is adequate, and there is that slide! Bring on a much needed project.

  5. Peggy says:

    Why spend the money here? When at the end of Center Street you have a HUGE park that serves a big family community? Albany loves spending money unnecessarily.

  6. Carla A Mundt says:

    There were door hangars. Wanting opinion on what was a done deal.

  7. Carla A Mundt says:

    This neighborhood has more homes without children than homes with children. I can see the park from my home. Very little activity there.

  8. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Good ‘ole “bottom-warmer” slide on sunny days. :-)

  9. Snne says:

    There is more need for the homeless and children going hungry. If you want to help children give them homes and feed them.

  10. Abe Cee says:

    Good place to put some new affordable housing/tiny homes it appears. The YIMBY crowd should approve.

  11. Brittany Novak says:

    Apparently some of you haven’t sat on a metal slide during the summer. Sizzle Bun City! You could have just asked why all the others were removed. I have kids on the spectrum, though they are older now. We would have loved something like this years ago, so I am super excited to see an effort made towards inclusivity in our community. Having it in a quieter park also makes a lot of sense, considering those who get easily overstimulated. People who care for the neurodivergent have a common goal and that is (aside from inclusivity) full integration by adulthood, or as close to that as we can get. So things like this are a real moral boost – We see an effort to include our kids/students into the general community. :)


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