Gay Ferguson Memorial Playground opens, dedicated to children of all abilities

Published 12:18 am Friday, October 27, 2023

NEDERLAND — The late Gay Ferguson had an idea to make one of Nederland’s playgrounds inclusive to all abilities.

Funding was allotted last year, but the city wasn’t able to get around to the project. Sadly, Ferguson was killed in a traffic crash in November 2022, so when this year’s fiscal year rolled around, city leaders decided it was time to move forward with Nederland’s first inclusive playground.

Mayor Don Albanese said Ferguson was dedicated to God, her family and the Adaptive Sports for Kids community, and the city feels naming the park after her is a way to honor her memory.

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City Manager Chris Duque called it a bittersweet day, because Ferguson wasn’t there Thursday to see the park open.

Now, it is officially open as Gay Ferguson Memorial Playground with signage noting “Forever in our Hearts.”

The park is unique in that it does not have mulch for the floor. While mulch is ADA complaint, Duque said the rubber floor matting, which is in place in Nederland, allows those with an impairment the ability to move better.

There are also swings, play areas, benches and a canopy for shade. The biggest cost, Duque said, was the rubber matting because there is the need to address drainage with this type of flooring.

Leaders with A.S.K., a nonprofit that provides opportunities for disabled children to play sports, voiced their approval of the design and concept.

The new inclusive playground is located at Doornbos Park, 2301 Avenue H in Nederland.

Duque said there are other improvements to the park in the works to the tune of $2 million.

The pond, which is a focal pint for many visitors, will be dredged, an island area removed and bulkhead added, where there is structural issues. In addition, the city plans to replace the large pavilion near the back of the pond, work on the tennis courts and add lighting and make some of the tennis courts accessible for pickle ball.

Duque said the work on the projects will be done without issuing any debt and still be able to reduce the city’s tax rate.