The city of Redmond said Friday it just learned that it is the recipient of a $210,000 Local Government Grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department for the Sam Johnson Park Improvement Project. 

The project was ranked #1 in the state rankings for large grants, and brings the total fund-raising for this project to $400,000, just $100,000 short of the $500,000 goal.

The Sam Johnson Park Improvement Project is a grass-roots effort to build a 100% accessible playground in Redmond’s Dry Canyon that is available for people of all abilities and ages. 

The improvement project will replace an under-sized, aging and deteriorating playground structure with a custom-designed playground that highlights Central Oregon’s Smith Rock and Redmond’s Dry Canyon. 

All equipment will be designed to be 100% inclusive, including programming for all ages, (0 – 100+ years old), encouraging multi-generational interaction, physical activity and collaboration. 

It's a collaborative effort between the City of Redmond, the Kiwanis Club of Redmond and the Friends of Sam Johnson Park, and has been in development and planning for 18 months. 

“This project is truly a community effort.  We have conducted public forums, intercept surveys, reached out to partner organizations, hosted design charrettes in Redmond’s elementary, middle and high school classrooms.  We have heard from parents with children, grandparents, veterans, the Opportunity Foundation, teen-agers and adults,” commented Heather Richards, Community Development Director and Project Manager for the Sam Johnson Park Improvement Project.

“The final design of this effort is a collaboration of this community and is representative of Redmond’s spirit of working together, caring for each other and promoting family.”

The project’s goal is 100% inclusivity, meaning that everyone can participate in the play and use of the playground, regardless of age and physical abilities.  With that commitment to inclusivity most of the playground will be custom-designed. 

Since the equipment needs to be custom-designed to accommodate the inclusive play features, the project team felt that it was an opportunity to build a playground that is representative of and unique to Redmond. 

The concept involves a long rock wall with an accessible ramp on one side representing the walls of the Dry Canyon and geological formation of the nearby Smith Rock State Park. 

Slides representing water outfalls will come off of the rock wall.  Bridges will connect nearby structures to the rock wall and provide an accessible route onto other equipment. 

The rock wall will host caves with petroglyphs and interpretive panels describing the different layers of rock found in the wall and the types of animals that inhabit the canyon. 

All of the equipment and structures will be custom-designed to represent the geological and ecological habitat of the Redmond Dry Canyon and Smith Rock. 

Mature trees on the site shall be retained.  Different age programming will flow seamlessly.  Amenities will be available for all age groups.  Shade, benches, water fountains, bicycle racks, etc. will be provided. 

Funding for this project is predominantly private donations and grants.  With the recent announcement from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department regarding the $210,000 grant, the project team feels confident that the project will be installed over the winter and open for use next Spring, 2014. 

“I am really looking forward to that day when we cut the ribbon on this project.  This is a project designed and built by the community for the community,” Richards said.  “It does not get any better than that.”

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has loaned a “Monkeyface Climbing Boulder” to the City of Redmond to install in Sam Johnson Park as an illustration of the future playground elements.

Two Monkeyface climbing boulders were at the State Fair for many years.  They are no longer being used at the State Fair.  One was relocated to the Smith Rock Campground and the other was delivered to the City of Redmond for emplacement in Sam Johnson Park as support for the improvement project.

For more information about the project, visit

History of Sam Johnson Park:  Sam Johnson donated the land for Sam Johnson Park to the City of Redmond in 1987.  The Redmond Kiwanis Club, of which Sam Johnson was a founding member, adopted the park and raised funds for the irrigation and the original playground structure in 1990.  Then the Redmond Kiwanis Club raised funds for and built the park picnic shelter.  Since its dedication the Redmond Kiwanis Club have been an integral part of the Sam Johnson Park.  As part of their 75th Anniversary celebration, the Redmond Kiwanis Club voted to support the Sam Johnson Park Improvement Project as their service project for their anniversary.