First ADA-accessible park opens in Pullman, sparking inclusivity

Mary’s Park has something for children of all disabilities



Children utilize Pullman’s first ADA-accessible park on October 11.

GABRIELLE FELICIANO, Evergreen life editor

After 12 years of planning and designing, Mary’s Park, Pullman’s first-ever ADA-accessible park, is now open to the public with multiple pieces of equipment for anyone to enjoy.

Located at 1570 SE Johnson Ave., Mary’s Park features play equipment built for physically-disabled children and neurodivergent children, said Matt Young, Pullman city communications director. The park also has ADA-accessible ramps leading into the park, as well as onto the play equipment.

Additionally, Young said the surface of the park is made of rubber SpectraTurf, a versatile surface that is safe for all mobility aids.

“There should be spaces for everyone to get out and be active,” Young said. “This is a statement for the community: Pullman is a place for all to learn, play, grow, thrive, all those different things.”

Mary’s Park has two main sets of play equipment, one forest-themed and the other train-themed. The equipment at the park ranges from the Brava universal swing, a swing that can be swung using only the arms or the core, to the Cozy Cocoon, a spinning escape for children who might be overstimulated.

Young said that over $400,000 has been invested in Mary’s Park. $30,000 worth of the park’s equipment was funded by the Pullman Kiwanis Club, a service club founded in 1922 that is dedicated to serving the needs of local children. The club donated $25,000 toward Mary’s Park in 2019 and matched the first $5,000 donated by members of the community.

Larry Clark, Pullman Kiwanis Club board member and publicity committee chair, said the club started setting money aside for play equipment as early as 2010, soon after discussions about building an ADA-accessible park began.

“Kids have different needs,” Clark said. “They have a whole variety of needs, and before Mary’s Park, there was no fully-accessible playground in the region. We thought Mary’s Park fit perfectly with Kiwanis’ mission of helping kids.”

Mary’s Park first began construction in 2019 after its design was approved in 2018. The Herbert Neil estate donated almost five acres of land toward building a park in 2010. Mary’s Park is named after Neil’s late wife.

12 years after the estate’s donation, the park finally opened.

Kurt Dahmen, Pullman city parks director, said part of the delay was due to finding additional funding. A passage of a bond in 2018 helped secure enough money to install surfacing and purchase individual pieces of equipment.

The other part of the delay involved finding land with the topography for an ADA-accessible park. Dahmen said the playgrounds at other parks could have been retrofitted, but that access to some parks would have been challenging. Mary’s Park provided a flat-enough surface to work with.

Young said there are also plans to add ADA-accessible bathrooms and picnic structures to Mary’s Park in the future. The parking lot, which is currently covered in gravel, will be paved over sometime next year.

“Mary’s Park is a commitment that the city of Pullman continues to make to the community, that we have the foresight and the values to pursue projects and improvements that consider the needs of all people,” Young said.