At the September 18 city council meeting, Emily Clipton from the Low Impact Design Center presented a plan for the new King Park, which is currently closed and undergoing renovations.

The process of planning the redesign of King Park started over a year ago. In September 2022, the Low Impact Design Center and Playground Specialists started gathering information from residents about how they used the park, as well as what they would like to see, or would like to see removed.

In February the organizations proposed an initial sketch, which drew yet more feedback from residents. Most controversially, the initial sketch suggested moving the playground into the center of the park, inside the circular paved walking path.

Clipton said the final design, which returns the playground to its original location at the side of the park, took both rounds of comments into consideration. The park, Clipton noted, serves a lot of needs, and the general consensus from residents was that the playground should stay on the edge to allow enough green space for residents to enjoy.

While some residents wanted playground equipment to accommodate older children as well as preschoolers, Clipton said the playground will remain a 2-5 year old playground, due to the limited space, as well as the needs of the current users of the park. She said the design called for wayfinding at the entrance to help residents find other parks, as well.

The final design calls for the addition of stroller parking and a reading garden, as well as a reinforced gate and native vegetation. An area will be left in which public park art can be added at a later date.

The nature-inspired playground includes balance elements, a playhouse, slides, a communications board, and harmony bells. The surface will no longer be mulch, but will be “rainbow rubber,” Clipton said, which is both semi-pervious and also accessible for children with differing abilities. The much-beloved fire truck climber will also be retained.

Hyattsville Director of Public Works, Lesley Riddle, noted that while it may look like the park has been closed for no reason over the course of the past year, lots has been going on behind the scenes. The park site used to house a school, she said, and the city had to ensure that an underground heating oil tank had been properly remediated. “We’re in good shape,” Riddle said, “[but] it took a long time!”

Riddle said she is optimistic that the park can reopen in late Spring 2024.