Ingham parks to become more accessible and inclusive

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As part of Ingham County’s 2022-2026 Master Plan, a variety of accessibility developments for parks and recreation facilities are set to be implemented soon.

To sustain the parks and better accommodate the community for years to come, the Ingham County Parks Board of Commissioners composes a recreational master plan every four years. This includes a detailed plan of improvement projects that addresses several concerns, while meeting eight objectives. The most recent plan includes a variety of developments such as accessibility adaptations that allow for a maximized experience for everyone. 

The Ingham County 2022-2026 Parks and Recreation Master Plan includes what’s in store.

Such developments are contingent upon a demographic analysis of park visitors, citizen feedback and Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. Using this system, facilities are graded from 1 (none of the facilities/park areas meet accessibility guidelines) to 5 (the entire park was developed/renovated using the principles of universal design). 

After receiving updated assessment scores and considering community input, the board  decided there is still room for further accessibility improvements to Ingham County parks. 

Timothy Morgan, Ingham County parks director, said “We follow the ADA accessibility codes, but whenever we can, we try to take it up a notch and provide universal accessibility. This exceeds the minimal requirements, making things easier for all persons of all abilities when utilizing facilities.” 

Citizens can expect to see widened trails, added disc golf courses, movement of administrative offices to county park facilities, carousel renovations, restroom accommodations and more. Starting in 2023, designs and modifications will be made to parks across the county including Lake Lansing North, Lake Lansing South and Hawk Island. More parks are expected to see renovations in coming years. 

Accessibility accommodations are essential for full community engagement. Having parks and recreational areas be more accessible for people who are physically or mentally impared could result in an ideal space for a larger percentage of the population. These improvements also contribute to urban health. According to Elizabeth Perry, assistant professor of parks, recreation and community engagement at Michigan State University, parks contain lots of well-being components. Incorporating accessibility developments would result in more inclusive spaces which could increase individuals’ functionality and society contribution.

Making county parks and recreation areas has many upsides. Citizens are already showing their gratitude for such accommodations. MSU student and Ingham County resident Makayla Adams said, “Parks are a wonderful place where individuals from all walks of life with differing social identities can come together as one. Having a common meeting place where everyone is able to fully engage and participate is important. If recreational areas are not easily accessible to all, this would be impossible. It feels good to know that truly inclusive experiences are being considered and encouraged by the county”.