Preliminary designs unveiled for city’s $13 million full-capacity park

  • The presentation was given by Greg Miller of MRWM Landscape Architects of Albuquerque.
  • The park would be designed to provide universal accessibility and all-inclusive amenities for play, therapy and fitness.
  • City officials described it as the first such project in San Juan County.

FARMINGTON — Farmington City Council members and the public got their first in-depth look at the city’s proposed all-abilities park at the July 12 council meeting, and they learned the cost of the project would be significant.

During a 30-minute presentation by Greg Miller – a principal of MRWM Landscape Architects, the Albuquerque-based firm that was hired by the city to come up with a design for the park – it was revealed that the preliminary estimate cost for the project is $13 million. The most expensive elements of the plan are $2.2 million for landscaping and irrigation, $2.1 million for landscaping, $1.8 million for the planned renovation of the former existing library on site and an additional $1.8 million for play equipment and park paving.

“It’s not a cheap business,” Miller acknowledged during his presentation. “It’s something that sets the bar pretty high.”

The park would be designed to provide universal accessibility and all-inclusive amenities for play, therapy and fitness. City officials described it as the first such project in San Juan County and initially pegged its price tag at $10 million.

Cost estimates added a somewhat disappointing tone to what was otherwise an upbeat meeting, with council members and the public expressing considerable enthusiasm for the design of the proposed park, which would be located on the site of the former Tibbetts Middle School at 317 E. Apache St.

Shana Reeves, director of the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, said many people had had an overwhelming response to the preliminary designs and noted that plans for the project had evolved significantly since the idea first came up. was proposed four years ago.

Mayor Nate Duckett described the design as “breathtaking” and said he thought the park could be a catalyst that would lead to increased investment in the city.

nate ducket

“I look at this and I see a dream,” he said.

Duckett said it gave her chills to think of having such a park in the middle of Farmington. He admitted to having significant concerns not only about the cost of building the park, but also about its maintenance.

Nonetheless, he took an optimistic approach to getting it built.

“I bet we could find that money fast enough in the private sector to make that happen,” he said. “…I like everything you just showed me.

The design unveiled by Miller at the meeting shows a park that is anchored by a large grass field on the east side and multiple uses, structures and landscapes on the west side. A 15-foot-wide concrete loop would circle most of the park, over a half-mile length. The park would be 4 to 5 feet higher on the north side and feature a variety of simulated mesas, hills, plateaus, canyons, valleys and stream beds to mimic the natural topography of the Four region. Corners.

To view a detailed set of images illustrating the possible design of the planned all-abilities park in Farmington on the site of the former Tibbetts Middle School at 317 E. Apache St., go to .

At the west end, the surviving library at Tibbetts Middle School would be renovated for restrooms, offices, community activity and gathering space, and other uses.

Reeves opened the meeting by saying that the project schedule originally called for the design to be 30% complete by this point.

“We’re a little over the top,” she said.

Nonetheless, Miller emphasized during his presentation that the plans he showed were by no means final.

“There’s still a lot of flexibility in the design,” he said. “There are a lot of really fun details that still need to be ironed out.”

The park is said to have several highlights, including a “weeping rock” structure with recirculating water flowing over a rock face. Miller encouraged reunion attendees not to think of it as a wading pool or water feature.

“It’s not meant to be an immersive experience,” he said. “It’s more of a water fountain that provides sonic and visual interest….”

The designs also call for the creation of a textured sound path – a walkway constructed with different materials that would offer those who walk across it multiple auditory experiences. Miller noted that it could be enjoyed by people of all abilities and said it was not something he had seen at any other park for all abilities.

The park’s ephemeral steam mattresses would not be filled with recirculating water. Instead, Miller said, they would be designed to capture and channel rainwater in a natural way, serving as an attraction during rainstorms.

A large canyon in the middle of the park would house large playground equipment, while other areas of the park would include multi-purpose courts, indoor stages or gathering places, smaller playground equipment, and quiet areas.

The park would include three parking lots – two smaller ones at the west end and a large one in the middle along Apace Street. It would also have three toilets – one in the renovated library, one in the middle of the park, and one at the east end.

While no final decision has been made about fencing the park, Reeves said most people seemed to support the idea, and the idea drew support from Duckett and council members at the meeting. The fence would be wildlife-friendly, meaning small animals could roam through it, but it would limit the ability of stray children to leave the park except through designated entry and exit gates.

Miller said additional meetings with stakeholder groups would continue through mid-July and the design development phase of the project would continue through mid-August. A final design development presentation is scheduled for the end of August, with the development phase and implementation plan to take place in September.

For more details on the project, visit

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription:

Abdul J. Gaspar