BRENTWOOD -- With its pirate theme and bountiful play features, the Universal Abilities Playground at Veterans Park has become one of Brentwood's most popular play destinations since its February opening, but the parents of local special needs children are requesting one important addition.

Last week, the Special Kids Foundation announced it will pay for fencing around the remainder of the playground for safety. When it recently opened, the playground was partially fenced, and many parents have requested that it be enclosed to keep playing children from fleeing the area because of heavy traffic on nearby Balfour Road and the parking lot.

Designed with input from the special needs community through Special Kids, the playground features musical, spinning and lifting elements deemed accessible by the Americans with Disabilities Act and meant to foster the development of all children. The playground is frequented by children with various disabilities, and many of them tend to run away and hide during play.

Brentwood mom Paige Lark said her son, who has Down syndrome, likes to run away from people as a game. She added that this a community safety issue, and the fencing will provide protection for children playing there.

"My child is a runner, and I would like it," Lark said. "It will be a lot safer for our kids. It just takes a second for our kids to be out in the street."


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Special Kids will pay about $4,000 to fence the rest of the playground, leaving a 5-foot opening near the restrooms. The new fencing will extend from where it ends near the grass and behind the benches up toward the restroom area, according to Special Kids Executive Director Lisa McBride.

"We just want to make it as safe as possible," McBride said. "The runners are quick, and this will slow them down significantly."

McBride noted that the Brentwood Parks & Recreation Department has added an extra 15 feet of fencing on the restroom side of the playground since its opening earlier this year. Many parents offered suggestions and feedback on the park's design and play elements, and McBride said the lack of fencing was an oversight.

"We want to make it what the public wants," she said. "Fencing is a really important component."

Contact Paula King at 925-779-7174 or pking@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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