Flanagan Lake playground emphasizes accessibility, sets new standard for Omaha parks

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- It’s been a while in the making, but the playground at Flanagan Lake opened up this week at 168th and Ida streets, and families braved the chill Friday to break it in.

Flanagan Lake Park's new playground emphasizes accessibility. (Photo courtesy of Omaha Parks and Recreation)

Jenna Durham and her three kids braved cold and wind Friday to come check it out. Lila, Reid, and Callan have been watching the playground going up all summer and are ready to give it a workout.

“It’s beautiful. It’s fun. It’s great for little kids is see,” said Durham of Elkhorn. “The size, the age range — I think it will be really great. My kids are 4, 6, and 8, and they love it.”

The playground cost about a half-million dollars and is the finishing touch on Flanagan Lake, a 730-acre project with a 220-acre lake and five miles of trails.

“The park is great to have here at Flanagan. We love to come and bike or walk,” Durham said. “It will be great for my family after a long walk at the lake or fishing. We can also come and play at the park, which we don’t have out here in Elkhorn.”

The playground is also handicapped-accessible, a quality that is now part of the plan of all new Omaha parks projects. The concept is not a first for Omaha: The first handicapped-accessible park was Pipal Park, which has been barrier-free since the 1970s; plans are in now in the works to update that park.

In addition to accessibility, the playground has features for kids of many ages.

“There is sometimes parks that are only geared for ages kindergarten to fifth grade, but even parents and toddlers or preschoolers will find that this park has lots for them to do as well,” Durham said.

So how do her kids like it?

“I like wanted to try the big slide because it’s so big,” said one.

“I like it,” said another.

“What do you do on the twisty slide? Twist, twist, twist!”

All of this is the result of a partnership between the City of Omaha and the Papio Natural Resources District. The lake helps with flood-control; the park provides recreation; and the Durham kids provide the laughs.