Neighborhood Allies Helps Bring Millvale’s Vision for an Accessible Play Space for All to Life

Apr 26, 2023

Last April, Neighborhood Allies staff spent a beautiful Earth Day cleaning up a vacant lot in Millvale with partners and community residents. We had a great time and were happy to help bring new life to the space by getting rid of trash and old fencing, pulling weeds, and planting new trees on the site.

This Earth Day, our Social Impact Design Team revealed a design for this same lot envisioned by and for Millvale residents. Our team collaborated directly with community members of all ages by attending multiple community meetings, holding input hours at the Millvale Community Library on the weekends, and coordinating events with local businesses to get resident feedback. Jordan even attended a Girty’s Run watershed session to learn about the site’s potential impact on water retention and met with an engineer consultant to discuss sustainable design options to ensure that the final design incorporated Millvale’s environmental and sustainability goals. After bringing together many residents’ feedback and ideas and collaborating with the Millvale CDC, our team was able to create a truly inclusive vision for the space. Tamara and Jordan revealed the design to community members on Saturday, April 22nd, 2023 at Millvale’s annual Earth Day event.

Now, the Millvale CDC has a cohesive and community-driven vision for the lot that will allow them to seek funding to make the Accessible Play Space for All a reality for all Millvale residents!

The final design for the space includes everything from a stage for outdoor performances, a full-sized basketball court, and picnic tables, to unique and accessible play elements such as a swing designed for wheelchair users, unique water management systems to maintain maximum sustainability, and a racoon-shaped play structure with climbing elements and a slide conceptualized by the children of Millvale.

In fact, the “Rainbow Racoon” has become a kind-of mascot and focal point for the project, inspiring students at Shaler High School to design pins to help promote fundraising efforts for the playground.

Check out the final design in more detail by clicking the images below!

If you’d like to contribute to the building of this amazing Millvale play space, consider donating to the Millvale Community Development Corporation (MCDC) so that they can bring these designs to life!

Our Social Impact Design Program translates community visions and objectives into architectural design packages that ensure design and development projects are focused on what the community wants and needs. We use our expertise to provide storytelling and design services to support the realization of community projects by acting as a translator of community visions to architects, urban designers, and developers. We illustrate the needs of a community through low-cost/ no-cost design services up to the schematic design phase for community-driven projects. Typically, design services are offered through a three-stage strategy, including a series of charrettes and educational workshops co-created with and for the community. We also conduct thorough site analysis and research to support the project and ensure that the long-term quality of life and neighborhood image is both preserved and improved upon.

Our Social Impact Design (SID) Team: Senior Program Manager for SID Tamara Emswiler, and Social Impact Designer Jordan Swartz.

Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA