Asheville Parks & Recreation celebrates grand opening of city’s first all-abilities playground on June 25

playground at Murphy Oakley Park

Asheville Parks & Recreation (APR) invites kids, families, and community members of all ages to celebrate the city’s first all-abilities playground at Murphy-Oakley Community Center on Tuesday, June 25 at 1:30 p.m. Open play time will follow a short ceremony with remarks from D. Tyrell McGirt, APR Director. Attendees can also enjoy treats from Annie B’s Homemade Ice Cream courtesy of the City of Asheville!


A Playground for All

“We are thrilled to add this fantastic all-abilities playground to our community,” says McGirt. “As another exciting and equitable multigenerational space for everyone to play and grow, the design reflects Asheville Parks & Recreation’s commitment to social inclusion and ensures every Ashevillian has the opportunity to thrive.”

The new playground boasts a variety of slides, climbing and spinning structures, swings, musical instruments, and designated cognitive play areas to spark imagination and encourage healthy fun for all children. A “serenity spot” is also integrated into the design since children, caregivers, and parents often need a comfortable place to step away – but still be part of the playspace. 

New sidewalks make the playground easily accessible for people with wheelchairs or limited mobility and colorful non-slip rubber surfacing softens potential falls. A safety fence surrounding the perimeter creates a fun, vibrant boundary, promoting a feeling of independence that allows kids to safely explore the entire playground with ease.


Addressing Community Needs

Many community members experience disabling conditions that range from physical disabilities to cognitive and behavioral challenges such as autism and sensory processing disorders. As valuable spaces important to childhood development, playgrounds should embrace and inspire people of all abilities.

APR’s Therapeutic Recreation (TR) program for kids and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities is based out of Murphy-Oakley Community Center, so the all-abilities playground intentionally addresses needs of this community through an innovative, inclusively-designed environment supporting physical, social-emotional, sensory, and communication development.

This community investment project is funded by Asheville residents who overwhelmingly approved a general obligation bond in 2016 to address a wide range of parks and recreation projects throughout the city including playground renovations, community center improvements, enhancements to sports courts and fields, and land acquisition for a new park. 


Modernizing Asheville’s Playgrounds

The new playground is APR’s seventh complete playground replacement since 2019. With the Carrier Park playground replacement this summer and investments in Burton Street Community Center’s outdoor space planned for next year, nine of APR’s 19 playgrounds will be brand new and modernized. Many other playgrounds have also received new equipment, enhanced safety features, and accessibility upgrades.

Murphy-Oakley Community Center opened in 1968 with a ballfield, tennis courts, picnic shelter, restrooms, and playground added in the 1970s. The playground was last replaced in 1996. In April, the center’s popular outdoor basketball, pickleball, and tennis courts were resurfaced. The center is located on 749 Fairview Road with ample parking available off Liberty Street.


Asheville Parks & Recreation: Explore, Connect, Discover!

With its oldest parks dating to the 1890s, Asheville Parks & Recreation manages a unique collection of more than 65 public parks, playgrounds, and open spaces throughout the city in a system that also includes full-complex recreation centers, swimming pools, Riverside Cemetery, sports fields and courts, and community centers that offer a variety of wellness-, education-, and culture-related programs for Ashevillians of all ages. With 10 miles of paved greenways and numerous natural surface trails, its complete portfolio acts as the foundation of a vibrant hub for the people of Asheville to connect with their neighbors and explore the natural beauty of a livable and walkable city.

Driven by the promise that Asheville is a better and safer place when everyone from infants to retirees has the opportunity to be supported, healthy, and successful, Asheville Parks & Recreation was the first nationally-accredited municipal recreation department in the United States. For latest updates, sign up for Asheville Parks & Recreation’s monthly newsletter, follow the department on Facebook (@aprca) and Instagram (@ashevilleparksandrecreation), or visit