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More than a playground, new Kids’ Space will celebrate Huntsville’s past, present and future

Published on April 28, 2022

More than 26 years ago, volunteers came together to build a playground in just six days. Kids’ Space at John Hunt Park quickly became a favorite among Huntsville families. Over the years, numerous repairs have been made to keep the mostly wooden structure open and safe to use. Now, it’s time for a new space, one that preserves the playground’s sense of adventure, while allowing more families to make memories that will last a lifetime.

Within a matter of days, Kids’ Space will close for renovation. The construction is part of a $6.8 million contract that includes a previously announced skatepark. Recognizing the importance of the playground to the community, the City has taken great care to ensure the approximately 14-month project results in a space that’s fun for all ages and abilities.

A Playground for Everyone

“One of the things we really talked about was accessibility,” said Huntsville Parks & Recreation Director James Gossett. “Obviously, when Kids’ Space was designed and built, standards were different. As we looked at the design, we wanted to remove any barriers for individuals with disabilities so everybody could be a part of this, one community all together.”

City Administrator John Hamilton said staff members spent hundreds of hours with the parents who helped design the Cove Universal Playground at Mark Russell Recreation Center. While crews drew upon that expertise, the new Kids’ Space will have its own personality.

“What we’ve designed in a very substantial playground,” Hamilton said, adding it will be unlike any other experience in North Alabama.

That design is also a celebration of Huntsville’s past, present and future.

Artist rendering of the new design for the kids space playground in John Hunt Park
The new Kids Space design incorporates a host of activities to accommodate children’s different interests and abilities.

Past, Present and Future

“We really pushed the designers to think outside the box,” Gossett said. “They did a good job melding those pieces into a large, cohesive playground that I think people will respond really well to.”

The new Kids’ Space will offer three themed areas. “Early Huntsville” will include plaza seating, a poured blue rubber surface that mimics Big Spring, and a John Hunt cabin play structure. A train will provide even more opportunities for pretend play, as children take a trip back to the 1800s.

From there, imaginations will soar to new heights in the “Space Race.” The centerpiece is a gigantic rocket play structure, with a sky bridge, sky cabins, and an exciting slide back to Earth. There will also be “atom nets,” a ropes course and suspended balance beam. Wall-style seating will serve as a spot to relax in this center area of the playground.

Mountain-themed plaza seating and stepped seats will offer plenty of room to spread out in the “Future Exploration” area. Though, it will be hard to take a break when there’s so much to see and do. From the “Three Caves” tunnels to cube-style climbing rocks, a wide embankment slide and an imagination playground, this is the perfect spot to burn off energy. When it’s time to fuel up, families will enjoy the grassy turf of a special picnic area.

Made in the Shade

Strategically placed shade structures will give children and adults plenty of places to cool off. Awnings, pavilions and trees will also help retain the shaded environment Kids’ Space users have come to know and love over the years.

Artist rendering of the new design for the kids space playground in John Hunt Park
Lots of sunshades and pavilions provide safe spaces out of the sun.

The renovation of Kids’ Space extends beyond the playground. The project will add trees, planting beds and decorative fencing. An expanded parking lot will ensure ample room for all who visit, while the new park entry will provide a welcoming first impression. Restroom facilities will also receive a complete renovation.

“It will be different than Kids’ Space, no doubt about that,” Gossett said. “It will look different. It will feel different, but it will still be a place where all kids can come and play. It will still be a Kids’ Space.”

renderings of play areas for the new Kids Space renovation to include A-D-A accommodation
A priority for the new Kids Space is for it to be fully accessible for children with disabilities.

Artist rendering of the new design for the kids space playground in John Hunt Park
Artist rendering of the Future Space Exploration experience for children.

renderings of Climbing and balancing activities that will help children with coordination and physical ability.
Climbing and balancing activities help children with coordination and physical ability.