Thursday, February 2, 2012

Futuristic little playspace: Karen Donnelly Park

Playground: Karen Donnelly Park
Location: stretches narrowly from Dickinson to Greenwich in the middle of the block between 2nd and 3rd
Date visited: 1/24/12

Equipment: A number of separate sculptural pieces made of futuristic stainless steel, scattered around the artificial grass play space:
  • A real teeter totter! Metal with spongy rubber bumpers underneath and similar material forming seats on top (seats 4), but the same action as the old wooden ones.
  • A sort of golf-bal-on-a-tee contraption at calf that seems to spin and bounce up and down. (to sit on?)
  • A tall pole shaped like a cat-tail stalk, with a disk at the base, which bounces and leans, maybe spins...
  • A low arch (hanging bar + climbing?)
  • A large metal dome (screams "king of the hill" game) that channels slide-climbing impulses. [Note: A sign warns that this gets very hot in summer sun.]
material: techno-metal; scale: small
Ages: 0-8?
Surface: astroturf/brick
Shade(0-3): 0 (some young trees)
Water: N
Other: Some cement chess tables with cement benches.
Access: open

Impressions: Cute and innovative use of a tiny park space, but the futuristic play equipment is as much perpexing as inviting -- probably a group of kids would invent novel games around pieces a single preschooler couldn't really figure out how to play with (except for the teeter totter! whee!).
Overall rating: 7

Not terribly inviting: Ford Rec. Center playground

Playground: Ford Recreation Center
Location: Snyder between 6th and 7th
Date visited: 1/24/12

Equipment: Two zones close together but separately fenced:
  1. A single freestanding metal slide (around 4 feet high) and 2 bucket swings
  2. A medium playset with 4-6-foot platforms, straight metal and spiral plastic slides, straight monkey bars, and a fireman's pole
material: modern; scale: small
Ages: 2-10
Surface: rubbery/cement
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: N
Other: basketball, swimming pool, rec. center building
Access: (not marked)

Impressions: Small play zone tucked into a low-rise block of Snyder is good for a snack but too limited for a longer visit, except maybe for a bucket-swinger. The colorful mural behind the pool is a really nice one, but blowing trash undermines its intended cheer.
Overall rating: 5