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School district donates land to city of Farmington, possibly for an ‘all-abilities park’

Site would be the first fully inclusive and adapted playground in San Juan County
Farmington Municipal Schools donated a site to the city of Farmington, which plans to build an all-abilities park. (Durango Herald file)

FARMINGTON – Farmington Municipal Schools donated the site of the former Tibbetts Middle School and Emma Weaver Library to the city of Farmington to potentially be used as an all-abilities park.

The city and school district put out a joint news release saying the donation was set in motion three years ago.

“The donation, which has been in the works for close to three years, highlights the continued collaboration between the district and the city on ways to improve/better Farmington,” the release said.

The 7 acres of land could become an all-abilities park, something the city is “giving serious consideration.”

The release said the park would be the first fully inclusive and adapted playground in San Juan County, and that some of the amenities would include inclusive and accessible play equipment, a pedestrian path, special surfacing, sensory play areas, visual impairment areas, therapeutic elements, outdoor musical instruments, adaptive swings including those to accommodate wheelchairs, shade, bathrooms and more.

The city also outlined plans for programs to take place at the park that might include adaptive sports and yoga, therapy training, integration programs, wheelchair assessments, kids fitness, ambulance training, cardiac patient recovery programs as well as life skills for victims of strokes and those with mental and developmental disabilities.

Robert Taboada, spokesman for Farmington Municipal Schools, said in an email Thursday that the park will have a major impact on Farmington families.

“The plans for the former Tibbetts Middle School and the library will have a positive impact on hundreds of FMS families,” Taboada said. “We estimate that close to 900 families live in the area, and they will enjoy the outcome of this great project, students from Apache Elementary, McKinley Elementary, Tibbetts Middle School and Farmington High.”

Eugene Schmidt, superintendent of Farmington Municipal Schools, said it was a pleasure to announce the donation of the school and the library to the city.

“We want to reaffirm our commitment to the city of Farmington, making sure that our lots and buildings in the city can be repurposed to serve the community, which is simply the best thing we can do for Farmington,” Schmidt said.

There will be several phases to go through to complete the multimillion dollar park. Part of the park will be paid for with a $300,000 Resilient Park Access Grant the city’s parks and rec department applied for. A group called Tibbetts All Ability Park Foundation has also formed to promote and fundraise for the park.

“Under the direction of the city and in conjunction with local donors and national grants, the former Tibbetts Middle School property will continue to provide our community with accessible outdoor recreation opportunities with the development of an All Abilities Park,” Farmington Mayor Nate Ducket said in the release.


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