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August 8, 2022

Work begins on South Monterey County’s first inclusive park

Playground equipment designed for all youth

SOLEDAD — City of Soledad and the Soledad City Council hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking on July 16 to celebrate the construction of the first inclusive park in Soledad and in South Monterey County.

The new park, temporarily known as Orchard Lane Park, includes custom playground equipment designed with child behavioral specialists focusing on play activities that stimulate emotional, social and physical skill building. Youth will also have the opportunity to swing, slide, rock and climb and play side by side.

The 3.5-acre site is located off Orchard Lane next to Hartnell College’s Soledad Education Center.

“I know Soledad residents have been waiting for the new park for some time, and to see this project start to come to reality is very exciting for the City,” said Soledad City Manager Brent Slama. “With the recent construction of the Hartnell campus next door, we expect this area of town to become very popular.”

In addition to an inclusive playground, the $7.7 million project features a skatepark, dog park and a water “sprayground” designed to minimize water waste. The park also includes a restroom facility, parking lot, multiple picnic areas and a large central grass space for gathering and events.

The park design was based on input from Soledad residents “after an extensive community outreach process to select the amenities,” Slama said. 

This input resulted from more than 10 community meetings, including with city council and parks and recreation committee members, as well as park design activities held at several schools, design workshops with residents and an email outreach to solicit feedback.

A site plan of the new inclusive park, located off Orchard Lane next to Hartnell College’s Soledad Education Center. (City of Soledad)

Designed for multigenerational use, the park’s diverse amenities will be available to local and regional community members for both passive and active recreation.

Art installations from local artists that capture Soledad’s vibrant and diverse community will also be featured throughout the park, which is expected to be completed by spring 2023.

“The park when fully constructed will reflect the values and needs of our community,” said Soledad Mayor Anna Velazquez. “The numerous elements incorporated in the design represent an important demographic of our city. The inclusive playground for children with disabilities is the first of its kind in southern Monterey County, and the social and emotional benefits extend well beyond the City of Soledad to include all families in our southern Monterey County region.”

City of Soledad also launched a contest for the naming of the park. The only rule was that names of individuals were not allowed, and the city council would need to approve it. Submissions were due by July 29, with the winner to be announced.

More information about the park and its progress can be found at orchardlanepark-soledadca.com.

Ryan Cronk
Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.
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