Talley Landscape Architects (TLA) created the design for a complete new play experience at Shady Lane Park. This project, representing the trans-formative effect of a park on an under-served community, was selected as the site for the 2013 Parks Build Community (PBC) Showcase Project. The design was centered on the nature theme of the conference. The park’s location adjacent to the new Bretshire Detention Basin on Hall’s Bayou is the fourth PBC project in the nation and the most comprehensive to date in this program. As such, the park was featured in a video produced by the National NRPA Conference and featured in the September 10, 2013 edition of Parks and Recreation Magazine and in the September 2014 edition of Landscape Architect and Specific News Magazines.
TLA’s design was developed to represent a bayou system from its head waters through wetlands that symbolically and literally connect to a restored riparian habitat adjacent to Hall’s Bayou, one of Harris County’s primary watersheds. Beginning at the existing community center, an accessible trail system with an embedded stream-bed follows a course that begins in a plaza with a splash pad and ultimately links to the newly constructed Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) Bretshire Detention Basin. Within this basin, HCFCD is re-establishing a riparian zone that is drawing several birds to the area. This park will anchor a regional trail system through Precinct 2 and connect to Keith-Weiss Park to the north. In the future these two regional facilities will anchor a trail system along Hall’s Bayou of over 30 miles.
The splash pad represents the headwaters and has in-ground sprays as well as water features from boulders and bubblers and partially submerged alligator heads. The water play equipment and general contracting were performed by Kraftsman Playgrounds. TLA worked with GameTime in the design of custom play pieces utilizing sketch-up 3D modeling for the park. Play pieces include an eight-foot diameter climbing log tunnel through which the symbolic bayou runs, a 15-foot long climb-on alligator with its mouth open, play equipment with slides that come out of standing cypress trees, and climbers that step on branches and leaves into another hollow tree log. The play space develops over 750 linear feet from a more formalized space to a Bayou Boat (that serves as an outdoor classroom) surrounded by real wetland plantings then moves on to a more adventurous segment of decomposed granite trail with a fallen log obstacle course and ends with a tall overlook berm on the edge of the basin.