After nearly a year of planning, designing and construction, the new playground at Naranja Park is open to the public and quickly becoming a big hit to children of all ages throughout Oro Valley.
Featuring ziplines, an adventure tower, rock walls to climb, catwalks, slides, swings, sandboxes and even a water play area, this park was designed to inspire the emotions associated with playtime, according to Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Director Kristy Diaz-Trahan.
“When we designed the park, we wanted to identify features that brought out joy, laughter, adventure, problem solving and risk-taking,” Diaz-Trahan said. “The goal was to create emotions like laughing and screaming because the park is so exciting.”
The near one-acre park was conceived by landscape architecture firm Norris Designs, along with parks and recreation staff, and later assembled by Durazo Construction. The project’s total budget was $1.45 million. Once the firm showed town officials their previous work, the town knew they found the right design team for the job, said Diaz-Trahan.
“We really wanted to make sure the playground wasn’t just a flat piece of grass. (Norris Designs) met with staff to really talk about what the community has been asking for and how we could get the job done,” Diaz-Trahan said. “The landscape has hills that kids can run up and roll down. The walkway to the adventure tower is up a hillside and there’s a lot of vertical movement in the park.”
The majority of the funding was used for strengthening the park’s infrastructure, which was originally a gravel pit before Oro Valley purchased the area in the mid-1990s, according to
“There was a lot of storm water drainage we needed to address and we moved a lot of dirt to put it to grade,” Diaz-Trahan said. “We also had to add elevation changes so the experience for the user would be unique and different from any other playground or space in the region.”
Accessibility throughout the park for those with mobility issues is another notable feature, said Diaz Trahan.
“We wanted it to be more experimental and that’s why there are walkways and paths throughout the park, Diaz-Trahan said. “If you have some mobility impairments you’ll be able to move around the park freely without having concerns.”
Diaz Trahan said her favorite part of the park is watching young and old alike enjoying themselves on the park’s new, one of a kind
“It’s just been fun to watch families run and play tag in the open grass space and see kids enjoying the zipline. Some get a little nervous while barely jumping off the platform and others take a running start,” Diaz-Trahan said. “You think of a playground for young children, but I watched a group of teenagers play on the new platform swing for a long time and really enjoy themselves. The fact that this playground has multigenerational uses really makes me smile.”
Naranja Park, located at 810 W. Naranja Drive, also features soccer fields, picnic areas, and hiking and birdwatching trails in addition to the new playground amenities.