The Morgan Hill Magical Bridge Playground—the first inclusive recreational facility of its kind in South Valley—is on track to be completed by January, according to city staff and the park developer.
The Magical Bridge Playground project has been under construction at the Morgan Hill Community Park—located between Cosmo and West Edmundson avenues—since late 2019. Complications and restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic delayed construction in 2020, but crews have been busy pouring concrete and installing equipment in recent months.
Crews in the coming weeks will install rubber surfacing throughout the playground, according to Morgan Hill Public Works Director Chris Ghione. Additional work to be completed includes the final installation of equipment, fencing, benches and other facilities.
When complete, the Magical Bridge Playground will be open and accessible to people of all ages and abilities—including residents and visitors who are disabled. It will be the only inclusive playground between San Jose and Salinas.
Features designed and installed within the massive playground include synthetic turf with slides and a climbing wall, a tree house, sound play garden, water spray mister, swing zone, a climbing area, a community stage and a quiet area for visitors to take a break.
Ghione said there is not a firm opening date for the new park, but construction will likely be complete by late December or early January. A portion of the Community Park’s parking lot and trail will remain closed until construction is finished.
The City of Morgan Hill and nonprofit Magical Bridge Foundation first announced the concept for a new inclusive playground here in 2018. Some of the funding for the $5.2 million-plus project came from fundraising efforts coordinated by the nonprofit and city—including a $72,000 grant from the Morgan Hill Community Foundation in February.
In 2019, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors provided Morgan Hill with $2 million for the project from the county’s All-Inclusive Playground Grant Program. Playgrounds funded under the grant must be designed to address the needs of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, sensory challenges, visual and auditory impairments, plus medically fragile individuals and those with cognitive, developmental and physical disabilities.
The Magical Bridge Foundation is still requesting help from the Morgan Hill community to contribute to some design elements of the park. On Nov. 16, the foundation sent out an email blast asking Morgan Hill residents to submit “words and quotes of kindness” that will be displayed in the Kindness Corner at the local playground. Words, phrases and quotes can be submitted by a form on the Magical Bridge website, found at tinyurl.com/25kb9zse.
The email from Magical Bridge said the remaining construction schedule in Morgan Hill depends largely on the weather, but the foundation also expects it to be complete by early 2022.
Although the construction of the Morgan Hill Magical Bridge project is fully funded, the city still needs money to maintain the park in the future. The city is planning to start an endowment fund for future Magical Bridge Playground maintenance. Any funds donated and raised for the park will be deposited into the fund.
People can make donations online at the city’s Magical Bridge project web page, found at morgan-hill.ca.gov/1643/Magical-Bridge-Morgan-Hill. Funds can also be donated by mail to City of Morgan Hill, Attn: Morgan Hill Magical Bridge Playground, 17575 Peak Avenue, Morgan Hill, CA 95037.
“The recent Covid-19 crisis has greatly impacted the city’s finances and our community is going to need your help to ensure the city can maintain the park once it is open,” says a message on the city’s web page. “This help is needed in the areas of continued fundraising and future commitment to volunteer.”
The Magical Bridge Foundation was founded in 2015, and opened its first inclusive playground that year in Palo Alto. The nonprofit has since partnered with other Bay Area cities to build more inclusive recreational parks, including one that was completed in Redwood City in 2017.
Other Magical Bridge Playgrounds are planned in Sunnyvale (scheduled to open spring 2022) and Mountain View (construction to begin in 2022). The foundation is also fundraising for an inclusive playground in the City of Santa Clara, according to the Nov. 16 email blast.