Last fall, Edmonds city council member Mike Nelson posted on Facebook asking for feedback on the city’s parks. He got all kinds of suggestions, from better bathrooms to addressing safety hazards. One mom’s request stuck out in particular: She requested a playground where her 4-year-old son, who has cerebral palsy and uses a walker, could play.
That message struck a chord. “It touched me as a parent,” says Nelson, who has two boys, ages 10 and 7. “Every child should be able to go play at a playground.”
Nelson, who is running for mayor, decided to help raise additional funds to add to the renovation budget for Seaview Park. The purpose of the additional funds? To make sure the playground would be accessible to all kinds of kids.
Instead of wood chips, the ground surface is a spongy rubber that’s easy for walkers and strollers to maneuver on. There’s a swiveling egg and a little tunnel for kids who need a quiet space. The old playground had four swings total; the new one features four regular belt swings — plus a toddler swing, an adaptive swing and a disc swing.
Seaview Park is a quiet, neighborhood park surrounded by modest ramblers. When we drove by, a man out watering his lawn waved at us. It’s off the beaten path, for sure, and relatively low-traffic. The playground isn’t completely overrun with kids, so it’s easy for a parent to relax in the shade while keeping an eye on their charges.
Seaview Park’s renovated playground re-opened in late July as the city’s first inclusive playground. Edmonds typically upgrades one playground a year (next up is Civic Field), and the goal now is to add inclusive elements to more playgrounds over time.
“Accessible playgrounds provide opportunities for children of all abilities to play and learn together,” Nelson says. “And I think all our parks should strive to be that way.”
At Seaview Park, there are two brand-new play structures: a fort designed for kids ages 2–5, and a giant rope gym for kids ages 5–12. Another new addition is the chest-height chain-link fence that wraps around three-quarters of the playground. Not so scenic, but very practical.
The playground sits on a hill, which kids love rolling down (or sledding down in winter). The problem was that there’s a road at the bottom: yikes. Now with the fence in place, caregivers get great sight lines and a little help keeping runners — or rollers — corralled.
Parents will be happy there’s a parking lot at the park’s entrance, and restrooms adjacent to the playground. The park also has pickleball and tennis courts, which were being freshly painted during our recent visit. There’s also a big grassy field, ringed with mature trees, next to the playground.
Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers
One nice thing I noticed about this playground is that it appears geared toward the 5 and under set. The stepping stones are just a little closer together, the climbing ramp a little less steep. Many new playgrounds seem to cater mostly to bigger kids, incorporating some risk-taking play elements. Smaller-scale structures for younger kids can seem like an afterthought. At Seaview, the main play fort is designed for ages 2–5.
But it’s not as though Seaview Park is just tossing a bone to the big kids, though. There’s a huge, star-shaped rope climber with a slide at the top. It made my stomach churn just looking at it, and even some elementary school-age kids I saw approaching it had second thoughts. A boy started up the rope ladder — “This is not safe,” he said — and backed down. Another boy eyed the route up to the top of the slide and said: “Oh God. So that’s how you get up there.”
My super-timid 8-year-old, usually terrified in these situations, was determined to reach that slide. Carefully, he made his way through the web and up to the slide. Then he did it two more times, with the proudest smile on his face.
If you go...
Open hours: 6 a.m.–10 p.m. daily
Where to eat: The nearest food stops to Seaview Park are the Burger King and Dairy Queen at the intersection of 212 Street S.W. and 76th Ave. W., a couple of miles away.
But drive a few more blocks to Highway 99 and you will hit a plethora of enticing Asian eateries. There’s a new outlet of 85°C Bakery Café (22611 76th Ave. W. #100) in the Ranch 99 plaza. Try the marble taro bread and iced coffee. We went to BlackBall Taiwanese Dessert (22001 Highway 99) for a cool treat: shave ice piled with grass jelly, boba, red beans and chunks of taro.
More inclusive playgrounds: Check out these 5 sensory playgrounds for kids of all abilities.