Kids Kastle, located in Unity Park, was designed and built by the community 25 years ago.
Highland Village Parks and Recreation Director Phil Lozano said that while Kids Kastle has served the community well, it is time to rebuild it so it can serve future generations.
“In ‘94 the community turned out and built a fabulous park,” Mayor Charlotte Wilcox said. “And I believe they’re going to do the same on this rebuild. My children enjoyed it, my grandchildren are enjoying it, and I hope my great-grandchildren will enjoy it.”
In September, the city hosted a series of community input meetings so residents could weigh in on the new design. Lozano said city staff also visited all of the elementary schools in Highland Village to get input from students. He said the city’s main takeaways are that residents want the playground to be accessible to everyone and the children wanted to keep the castle theme.
“Early on, back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, they used to design playgrounds that would separate kids with limited mobility from the other kids, and they quickly realized that this created some social issues and didn’t allow the opportunity for kids to learn and spend time together and accept each other’s differences,” Lozano said.
Voters approved funding for the play area, along with other street and park improvements, in a November 2017 bond election. Officials said that $600,250 of the park improvements will be funded by the bond, and the city aims to raise an extra $229,750 from the community to fund synthetic surfacing throughout not only the playground, but all of Unity Park.
“Council felt strongly that we want to get this done right the first time,” Wilcox said.
The surfacing is intended to create greater accessibility for people with limited mobility, she said.
“I like it for the adults, too, because we have a lot of veterans that are coming from Iraq and Afghanistan, and they unfortunately, God bless them, sometimes come back with some limited mobility,” Lozano said. “And this is a place where they will be able to spend time with their kids and not sit on the sidelines. We also want to honor our grandparents that are here in Highland Village and make sure they have the opportunity to play with their grandchildren without difficulty.”
Wilcox said that she is proud of the community for stepping up and wanting to be part of redesigning and building the playground.
“When you have equity in something, you enjoy it, you take care of it,” she said. “And that’s what it is to the people in Highland Village—it’s their park that they got to build.”
Residents interested in signing up to volunteer as a builder or donating to the effort can do so at www.speakuphv.com.