One of Highland Park’s most recent additions, York Park, had proved to be a regular stop for many neighborhood families. Built on the lot of an old gas station, the park has managed to keep some nostalgia from the previous residents by repurposing an old gasoline price sign that now reads “Self Serve Highland Park Community.” The park is just about a third of an acre, but it has managed to do wonders with the small space.
The main play area, built for ages 5-12, sits on a soft, shock absorbent pavement, and contains slides, a mini ropes course, gymnastic rings, and a climbing structure with the outer appearance of a gigantic tree. Some stationary musical instruments are also available, including a large xylophone.
There is a small grass section for families who have brought along lunch or a pup who needs a nap. The rest of the park is landscaped with beautiful native, draught tolerant plants, giving the area a simple, clean, and truly local feel.
A canvas awning covers the play lot, shading children from UV rays, which was something very important to parent Martin Rusch. As his five-in-a-half year old runs around, he explains how it was too hot without the covering.
York Park also offers activities for those who have outgrown the typical playground. There are three built in chess tables surrounding a public library with a “take a book, leave a book” policy that can both entertain and bring the community together. A small section has also been designated for working out, with an elliptical machine, pull-up bars, a stationary bicycle, and an ab station, making it easy for parents to get a workout in while their kids have fun and play. There are two restrooms on site, which may be an underrated detail (Bathroomless parks are always a hassle!) They even made room for a mini amphitheater, in case your kids are feeling inspired to put on a production.
Jasmine Cuevas and her five year old son say they come to York Park two to three times a week. Within walking distance, it’s an easy place to get to. Cuevas seems very comfortable while talking about her favorite amenity of the park. “I love the fact that it’s closed.” What she’s referring to is the beautifully designed iron gate that surrounds the park. Kids are free to run around without the worry of wandering off or running into the street; just one more comfort for parents of adventurous young ones. When asked what her son’s favorite part of the park was, there was no hesitation. “The snake slide!” With kids swarming it left and right, the “snake slide” stands alone, providing a ladder to climb up and a slide that spits you out of a rattlesnake’s mouth. In fact, this seemed to be a common favorite among the neighborhood kids. Martin Rusch and his son actually refer to the park as “Snake Park.” It’s become a staple for their routine, coming once or twice a week from neighboring Eagle Rock.