Scholar’s Creation a Permanent Fixture in One-of-a-Kind Park

November 19, 2015

News, The Zoetics

Photo by Charlie Wehner Sign for "A Park Above" created by scholar Charlie Wehner

Photo by Charlie Wehner
Sign for “A Park Above” created by 10th grader Charlie Wehner


By Devon Blanchard

There is a new park in the works in Rio Rancho, and a 10th grader at ASK has created original artwork for it.

The new space, called “A Park Above” is located at 2441 Westside Court SE, and is based around pieces created by local artists. The project, which has been in the works for seven years,  is a nonprofit park largely funded by donations from the community. It broke ground in 2013 and is  currently in “phase 1” of the process.

Sophomore Charles Wehner was approached by his neighbor and family friend, who owns a welding company, and asked to design a piece of art for the park. It took him about two days to create the design in Autodesk Inventor CAD, and even longer to turn his design into a physical piece of art. “It took a while to actually make it, because we needed to get the metal for it and make prototypes before we could make the real thing,” Wehner said.

Wehner is modest and soft-spoken about his design, which will likely be mounted in the park on a ten-foot pole. He said it was “kinda cool,” that he had a hand in designing and welding the sign. He has worked on other art pieces since being employed by his neighbor, but he is not sure if those pieces will go into the new park, or placed in other locations.

 Jennie Schulte Riedl, President and CEO of A Park Above, said she hopes to have the space complete and open to the public in about 2 years.

When she sat down with The Catalyst, Riedl said A Park Above is the first and only ADA (American Disabilities Act) accessible park in New Mexico, and is “inclusive for any person, of any age, of any ability.”  It will include six entrances, six different kinds of swings with two wheelchair swings, and ADA accessible bathrooms with adult changing tables. There will be tunnels, a sports area, amphitheater, a splash pad, and a “hidden magic spot.” There are also over 17 major shade structures.

Unlike other parks, which are generally flat, Riedl said A Park Above has many hills to climb on and take in the view of the six-acres. Some of the equipment is therapeutic, and all of it is on artificial turf so people in wheelchairs can easily access the gear. Everything is based on sensory details and made to be touched, from the varying textures on the pathways for the blind, to the playground accessories.

The space is fenced in with self locking gates, and after hours, the park will utilize a state-of-the-art, never before seen, high-tech security system to catch vandals and trespassers, Riedl said. “It would be a really sad thing to have vandals come into our park. Sad for them.”

She said there are also plans to include two doggy parks for big and small dogs, “they’re family too, right?”

Because the park is not-for-profit, Riedl needs community volunteers to help during an event she is holding this Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. for the people who have donated. She said volunteers would help create a banner, direct traffic, serve food, and receive a wristband that says “A Park Above” and their slogan, “Where ALL Children Play.”

To sign up for the volunteer orientation, scholars, staff, and community members can go to the park on Thursday (tomorrow)  at 4 p.m.

A Park Above is located at 2441 Westside Court SE.

For more information, check out “A Park Above’s” website, the Facebook Page, and on The City of Rio Rancho’s Web site.

Photo courtesy of Map of A Park Above

Photo courtesy of
                                                                Map of A Park Above


Photo courtesy of A Park Above's official logo.

Photo courtesy of
A Park Above’s official logo.

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