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03-22-21 | Feature

Mansel Carter Oasis Park

J2 Engineering & Environmental Design

Queen Creek, Arizona's new Mansel Carter Oasis Park is an amenity filled community destination. Leading the design team for this 46-acre project, Landscape Architects with J2 Engineering & Environmental Design creatively utilized the site's landforms to combine aesthetics and functionality. A 6,000 sq. ft. inclusive, ADA accessible hilltop playground situated by the 5-acre fishing lake offers panoramic views while also providing stormwater retention.
A lakefront peninsula ramada area was designed with a boulder outcropping water feature that serves as aeration for the lake system as well as an aesthetic amenity. The water used for this feature recirculates from the lake system and gives a calming water sound. The source of water for the lake system, which also serves as the park's irrigation water source, is a town well located just north of the lake. The large boulders of the water feature outcropping are made of glass fiber reinforced concrete and painted to match the park site boulders.
A lakefront peninsula ramada area was designed with a boulder outcropping water feature that serves as aeration for the lake system as well as an aesthetic amenity. The water used for this feature recirculates from the lake system and gives a calming water sound. The source of water for the lake system, which also serves as the park's irrigation water source, is a town well located just north of the lake. The large boulders of the water feature outcropping are made of glass fiber reinforced concrete and painted to match the park site boulders.
The 11,500 sq. ft. wheel-friendly skate park accommodates scooters, bikes, and skateboards in a design solution that is challenging for an advanced skill-set as well as forgiving for beginners. The skate park has become a popular gathering spot for skaters and bikers of all abilities.
The 11,500 sq. ft. wheel-friendly skate park accommodates scooters, bikes, and skateboards in a design solution that is challenging for an advanced skill-set as well as forgiving for beginners. The skate park has become a popular gathering spot for skaters and bikers of all abilities.
Two 265' x 400' multi-use sports fields offer a multitude of recreational athletic and community event opportunities. A fourplex ball field complex consists of three 225' ball fields and one 300' ball field. All fields were designed utilizing energy-efficient LED total light control for precision light management and sustainable low-energy operation.
The playground includes a three-story structure and several multi-person elements by Landscape Structures such as a two level rotating climber, spinner, and unique seesaw. Poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing was installed throughout. The steel and fabric shade structures were designed to establish the maximum amount of shade during hot months and allow sunlight onto the ground plane during cooler months by overlapping each canopy.
The hilltop playground sits 8' above the adjacent parking lots and 11' above the lake providing local and mountain views in all directions. A rock ridge double slide and 8' high rock-climbing wall were incorporated into the site's topography.
The hilltop playground sits 8' above the adjacent parking lots and 11' above the lake providing local and mountain views in all directions. A rock ridge double slide and 8' high rock-climbing wall were incorporated into the site's topography.
The adventure-themed splash pad, complete with a pirate ship, offers children an additional option for sensory play experiences along with plenty of shade and seating options. The splash pad is controlled by two push-button bollards and the water is sent to the lake, where it is re-used by the park irrigation system.
The adventure-themed splash pad, complete with a pirate ship, offers children an additional option for sensory play experiences along with plenty of shade and seating options. The splash pad is controlled by two push-button bollards and the water is sent to the lake, where it is re-used by the park irrigation system.

Queen Creek, Arizona's new Mansel Carter Oasis Park (MCOP) opened to the public in September 2018 after only 18 months from design to completion with Landscape Architects of J2 Engineering & Environmental Design as the lead design firm. The exciting and innovative 46-acre regional park facility serves many recreational needs for the Queen Creek community. The park provides an equestrian trailhead and resting node along the Queen Creek Wash, which links to the overall regional trail system. Upon entry, the use of stormwater harvesting bio-swales along the park roadways truly make a sustainable design impact on the site. The MCOP site design beautifully accommodates a 5-acre urban fishing lake that is stocked by the Arizona Department of Game and Fish. The lake is designed to appear larger due to the various curves and undulating edges, while still allowing for ease of maintenance. Custom shade ramadas are dappled throughout the park and may be rented for celebrations with a lakeside destination peninsula integrated into the lake design. The baseball field complex includes a raised plaza with stadium style bleacher seating, a shaded playground, restroom and concession building, abundant shade for spectators, and enclosed dugout and bullpens. There are two multi-use fields that can be utilized for soccer, football, or large-scale events. Both the baseball field complex and multi-use fields utilize total cutoff LED lighting for state-of-the-art performance and light and glare control. The elevated hilltop inclusive playground and rock-climbing wall zone provide stunning views of the San Tan Mountains to the south, while the splash-pad and sand-dig zone take advantage of beautiful lakeside views. The park site even has its own "social media photo hillside zone" complete with logo backdrop. MCOP is heavily used and loved by the community and is a destination with a true sense of place for all those living in the surrounding San Tan Valley.

Innovation & Contribution
One of the outstanding innovations that was included in the project was the fulfillment of the town's goal of achieving an inclusive playground - a space that would accommodate the play needs of children of all abilities and ages. Often times, designers only focus on ADA as a means to achieve inclusivity. At MCOP, the town staff, design team, and contracting team all worked together to develop inclusivity as a major detail. Features and play equipment were intentionally selected for the playground zone to provide for the various needs of children of all abilities. The team worked with a stakeholder group of local parent advocates who helped develop the park's playground area into a truly amazing amenity. To take the inclusive innovation a step further, the town and team developed a working partnership with Banner Health, Inc. The Banner Ironwood Medical Center team donated a $150,000 Grant to fund the rubberized safety surfacing throughout the play areas and splash pad to help the town achieve universal access and inclusivity. This public-private partnership provided innovation and a contribution that set a fantastic example for the industry and community.

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An additional innovation that was delivered at the MCOP site was the success in the development of the lake and the lakefront areas. Not only is the lake functional with its 13' depth and outstanding circulation for fish health and water quality/maintenance, but the aesthetics and public use areas along the lake frontage are truly unrivaled. From the many quality fishing areas along the lake edge, to the destination custom ramada zone with stunning waterfall accent, to the hilltop views across the lake itself - the MCOP lake is truly a wonderful community amenity. This lake innovation is a contribution to the industry due to the precedent of the excellence of form and function that was achieved - all with an eye toward long-term maintenance and water quality.

Sustainability
Low-Impact Development (LID) and sustainability were driving forces behind the design of the site. The park features over one mile of stormwater harvesting bio-swales along both sides of the park roadways to funnel stormwater to the densely planted, desert-adapted landscape areas of the roadway network. The park also connects to the regional Queen Creek Wash trail system, and the native desert planting along the east lake boundary reflects the native habitat tie-in to this beautiful multi-use trail. The use of energy-efficient LED lighting systems is implemented throughout the facility - from the sports lighting systems to the site and roadway lighting to the underwater uplights at the lakeside water features. Efficient use and re-use of the water systems - from splash pad to the urban fishing lake to the sprinkler and drip irrigation systems - reflect the team and town's commitment to sustainable systems.

Function & Aesthetics
The successful balance of function and aesthetics is a priority that the entire project team strived to achieve throughout the planning, design, and construction of the park. This success was delivered in outstanding fashion in almost every aspect of the park's detail. From the elegant lake to the lakefront "wedding" ramada waterfall zone to the state-of-the-art baseball facility with its own playground and iconic restroom / concession building form. Combined with the creative aesthetics of the maintenance facility and well site, the MCOP facility truly balances function and aesthetics in an unrivaled manner.

One example of this balance is the careful selection of materials that took place for the rock-climbing wall at the playground and the lakefront waterfall feature. The team had to balance function, aesthetics and long-term maintenance, and after much research and testing of materials, decided on utilizing artificial boulders. The ability to stain the concrete boulders and rock wall to resemble the natural boulders on site, and the ability to achieve exactly the aesthetic look that the designers and town desired, ended up resulting in a resounding success in obtaining this balance.

Another example of this balance occurred with the roadway design and construction. With limited right-of-way space to work with, the team decided to utilize bike lanes that consisted of a 4' extended concrete gutter in order to maximize efficiency, safety, and cost. Coupled with the median design, traffic circles, and narrowed lanes to achieve traffic calming, the team was able to develop a safe, functional, and aesthetically successful park roadway system that also included water harvesting bio-swales to capture stormwater and deep water the street tree system.

This successful balance of function and aesthetic quality of design - with an eye toward minimizing long-term maintenance - is evident in almost every aspect throughout the park.

As seen in LASN magazine, March 2021.

Filed Under: PARK, PLAYGROUND, POND, ARIZONA, LASN
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