Sunday, July 17, 2011

Great playspace for tots, plus a sprayground: Parkside-Evans

Playground: Parkside-Evans rec. center
Location: Parkside Road @ 53rd
Date visited: 7/16/11

Equipment: A number of separate pieces scattered around a medium playspace:
  1. A modern teeter-totter
  2. Two spinning seats, one modified cup-style and the other a platform
  3. A stegosaurus-shaped small playset with easy climbing and a double plastic slide
  4. A firetruck hobby horse, with two seats -- actualy rocks too!
  5. A freestanding 6-foot spiral slide with its own stairs/ladder
  6. Larger playset, but low, with tunnel/playhouse features underneath, an unusual rubbery bridge, low double (straight) and higher single (spiral) plastic slides, various climbing including a barrel-stave style ladder
  7. Swings (4 strap and 2 bucket)
  8. A fenced sizeable sprayground with two pillars and numerous pavement sprayers (not on at time of visit; also has activation pillar)
material: modern resin/metal
Ages: 1-7?
Surface: rubbery woodchips
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: Y
Other: shaded stone picnic benches and grassy areas (on other side of rec. center building), basketball (little league game during on the courts at time of our visit), tennis (8 courts)
Access: not posted, but not fenced (dawn to dusk?)

Impressions: Creative playspace for younger kids is colorful and inviting, and pairing with nearby grass, shade, and picnic tables could make a nice outing. Looks recently renovated and well maintained. Limited offerings for kids older than 6 or 7, but worth a trip for toddlers or when the sprayground is active.
Overall rating: 8* (youngest kids only)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Colorful new playspace: Clemente Rec. Center

Playground: Clemente
Location: 18th between Wallace & Mt. Vernon (entrances on three sides)
Date visited: 7/9/11

Equipment: Two playsets, in the same general area:
  1. Lower (marked for ages 2-5) has platforms around 4 feet high, misc. climbing (including one unusual rounded-step stair/ladder that would be good for newer climbers), a jointed bridge, two straight metal slides, and a gear toy underneath
  2. Higher (marked ages 5-12) has 4-6-foot platforms, misc. climbing, a narrow solid bridge/beam, short and tall straight (metal) slides and a tall (metal) spiral, and a large section of rope net/web-style jungle gym. There's also some tyke gear (bench, bus wheel, tunnel) underneath.
There are also swings in the play zone (4 bucket + 4 strap). A separate area nearby is a full sprayground, with a colorful palm tree-style central element and numerous spray heads embedded in the pavement around a wide cement oval (that will work in a patterned dance); there's a pole sensor for activation by hand waving, etc. [This was not active at time of visit due to some valves that needed fixing. Will have specific hours shorter than overall playground hours; see below.]
material: modern metal/rope, scale: med. space
Ages: 1-11
Surface: large rubberized zone and blacktop beyond
Shade(0-3): 0 (maybe some in mornings)
Water: Y
Other: basketball court, square picnic tables, muraled rec. center, adjacent baseball field, colorful plantings and some grassy areas
Access: still being decided: at least 9am-9pm for the playground (maybe as early as 8am, depending on volunteer logistics); water will be 11-7

Impressions: Colorful and well-designed mix of offerings in a newly renovated (July 5 opening!) playground. Oldest kids might find the climbing web a challenge, but no monkey bars or zip lines to add more. Tots and elementary ages should have plenty to do. Worth a special trip, and appears to have a staff of dedicated volunteers who will keep it presentable for some time.
Also note: there's a coffee shop/creperie a block east on Wallace, if anybody needs refueling...
Overall rating: 9

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A magical hidden playspace: Greenfield School

Playground: Greenfield School play yard
Location: Sansom between 22nd and 23rd (entrances on all 3 streets)
Date visited: 7/2/11

Equipment: A number of separate pieces and features scattered around the space:
  • A metal "rope net" climbing feature
  • Two freestanding spinning platforms (for sitting or standing)
  • A "zip line" sliding ring
  • Several random manmade hillocks for climbing and clambering
  • Large playset with miscellaneous climbing (a range of challenges), low curved and high spiral plastic slides, a solid bridge, fire pole, and curved stretch of "monkey bar" rings
  • A freestanding cylindrical jungle gym
material: modern, or as described; scale: several zones in a medium (half-block) space
Ages: 1-11?
Surface: rubbery or blacktop
Shade(0-3): 1
Water: N
Other: Smallish basketball net and half court, various painted games and other features on the blacktop spaces
Access: Not posted, no gates

Impressions: Recently renovated school yard has a creative mix of challenges landscaped into a colorful and inviting terrain of rubbery hills (enchanting to our 3.5-year-old), wandering paths, garden plantings, and interspersed trees (established and new). Many of the latest gizmos, in good shape, out of sight of the traffic -- lack of swings is the one surprising omission here, especially for those with younger tots in tow.
Overall rating: 8

Like playing in somebody's back yard: Coxe Park

Playground: Coxe Park
Location: Cherry betwen 21st and 22nd (on a little pedestrian streetway)
Date visited: 7/2/11

Equipment: A few small pieces near one another:
  • A tall spiral slide (ladder requires some bravery/oversight) of painted metal
  • A teeter-totter with hobby horse seats on each end -- usable by one or two riders
  • A metal jungle gym including monkey bars and 2 fireman's poles
  • A cement dolphin that can be climbed on
  • Swings -- 5 bucket with older-style chain lap-belts
material: mostly metal; scale of space: quite small
Ages: 1-7
Surface: rubbery around equipment; cement elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 3
Water: N
Other: nearby but separate fenced area with benches, closed street could be good for bikes or skateboards
Access: open street (but 20 feet from people's windows, so not too late)

Impressions: Cute little neighborhood nook shaded by mature treed and faced by a row of neat townhouses. Sort of a snack as playgrounds go, but might provide a brief diversion amid errands nearby, and shady benches would be nice for lunch, a snack, or a quick book.
Overall rating: 7 for cuteness, but 5 for offerings