11-10-21 | Department

Aspire Park

by Lori Schanche, ASLA, Landscape Architect

McMinnville Area Habitat for Humanity, also known as MacHabitat, in McMinnville, Oregon began construction on a subdivision of 34 homes in 2014. Landscape Architect, Lori Schanche became an integral part of the pro bono design of the Aspire Community Playground that would sit on an 11,000 square-foot parcel of land in the Aspire Community yet has not been completed as of yet due to the pandemic.
This nearly 11,000 square-foot lot is set to have a playground on it that will accommodate the Aspire Neighborhood subdivision. The site will include a basketball court requested by the neighborhood children.

McMinnville Area Habitat for Humanity (MacHabitat) in McMinnville, Oregon is celebrating 30 years of bringing people together to build homes, community, and hope in the McMinnville area.

In 2014, MacHabitat began the development of the subdivision of 34 homes, Aspire Community Development. The City of McMinnville Planning Department required a playground and community gathering area in a nearly 11,000 square-foot parcel in the middle of the neighborhood. The plans were approved, and several homes were then built, but still, there was no playground design.
Then, Executive Director, Mary Stern happened to meet Landscape Architect Lori Schanche, ASLA (OR 833). Mary has since retired and Katie Curry is the new Executive Director. Lori had recently moved to McMinnville after retiring as Municipality of Anchorage's Non-Motorized Transportation Coordinator. Lori agreed to help Mary and MacHabitat with a pro bono design of the playground for Aspire Park.
The design team first met with the families of the neighborhood, both existing and those already selected for future homes, to solicit input. Although the Executive Director had worked with a smaller group to choose playground equipment, the design team was not prepared for what the kids overwhelmingly wanted - a basketball court!
Parents in the neighborhood supported the kids' idea, and the team moved ahead on the redesign of a half-court. After a few design iterations, we presented our plan for approval when Mary Stern asked if we could use reduced easements for more parks. After some consideration, the planning department concurred and MacHabitat was able to secure active space for the entire park. Planning Director Heather Richards stated, "The park is well designed for such a compact space."
The park playground includes four accessible play toys, a shelter with picnic tables, and a half basketball court. The entire area, not basketball court and shelter, will be covered in safety surfacing to protect kids if they fall, and reduce maintenance expenses for the Aspire families, who will be responsible for the park. A fence around the park features a coffee mug-sized top rail so folks can gather and watch their kids play. Aspire Park will be the heart of this wonderful community.
Unfortunately, fundraising for the park was stalled due to COVID-19. However, MacHabitat has been fortunate to receive several significant gifts from community members and two grants from the Portland Trail Blazers. With these generous donations, MacHabitat can begin construction on the site. As more homes are built in the Aspire neighborhood, the need for the park increases. Hopefully, the Aspire Park will be completed soon so that it can provide a safe, enjoyable place for all to gather.


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