Location: 2nd & Reed (entrance on Reed)
Date visited: 8/17/09
Equipment: Two totally different areas, one playground, one water/spray park:
- Water is what brings the most visitors, at least in summer. There are 4-5 different (cement-paved) subzones, in which sets of sprayers either spout from the pavement, pour down from atop poles, or arc across the space. Some produce a lot of volume, and are thus better for bigger kids, but even toddlers and crawlers will find something in the smaller areas with subdued spouts.
- About a third of the space is a modern cutting-edge adventure-style playground, with lots of things to climb, spin, ride skateboards on rails, and some cool-looking electronic game I didn't figure out. Also one spring-based teeter-totter and two sizeable fibreglass climbing rocks.
Ages: just about any age for the sprayground, but the play equipment doesn't offer much for toddlers; see below
Surface: Cement in water area, "woodchip-style" rubbery composite in playground areas; also some grass and garden plantings.
Shade(0-3): 0 (but lots of new trees means this could change in a few years)
Other: bathrooms, basketball courts (with a seasonal soccer league?), tables with benches and awnings
Access: dawn to dusk (+ see comment below post)
Impressions: This recently created sprayground is enough to fulfill the fantasies of anybody who's ever chased a lawn sprinker. Sets of sprays cycle on and off, keeping the kids racing from zone to zone in packs, although toddlers among the smaller sprayers are out of the main traffic. I visited late on a weekday (around 4) and it was busy with a healthy mix of ages and races. The playground equipment is also very neat and different (similar in style to the older kids area at Franklin Square, but with different offerings), but will be most enjoyed by kids of school age. In particular, the one piece of equipment that my toddler could climb onto had a single slide with a near-vertical drop that was way beyond her aptitude. However, a neat spinning cup seat and the spring-totter may fill that gap a bit. A fellow blogger offers some photos of both zones. Two specifics should be noted, given the complete absence of helpful signage:
- the cycling activity of the sprays requires a periodic signal that people are still around (which makes ecological sense, but is completely nonobvious): there are waist-high red poles in each subzone that have a hand sensor that will trigger things to start up again, should it fall quiet.
- According to a young regular, the water is turned off at 5, so don't plan your visit too late in the day or your crew might be disappointed.
Update (11/27/11): Finally figured out the "cool electronic game" mentioned above, which is indeed both a hoot and a spur to exercise. Specifically, what looks like a podium with a foot platform (right near the jungle gym) is actually the controller for a series of games in which lights flash on various parts of the climbing equipment and you (solo or teams) run and climb to turn them off. My nearly 4-year-old is fanatical about this, and we recently spent more than an hour racing about with her until Spouse and I both had aching joints and happy exhaustion. Worth giving a try! (There appears to be something similar in the center of the spinning ring, which encourages you to spin to line up with specific target points, also fun.) Update (6/11/12): Here's the official word on what's going on with the park this summer, since I know a lot of people are wondering:
The hours of operation for the spraygrounds for the month of June are Monday thru Friday 3 to 7 (We changed this based on complaints from Herron) and Saturday 12 to 4 until our summer staff starts. We are waiting on paperwork for the sprayground staff at Herron. They can start June 13. Unfortunately our seasonal budget has been slashed during this administration and we don't have much wiggle room. July 1 we will go to 7 day operation and the spraygrounds will be open on Sundays.Will add more detail if we hear the specific hours for weekends for the rest of the summer. We need some spray!