Friday, September 7, 2012

Things to do and watch: Carmella

Playground: Carmella
Location: Wakeling between Torresdale and Worth
Date visited: 9/1/12

Equipment: A couple of zones, within sight of each other:
  • Smaller playset has two solid bridges, 2 straight and 1 spiral slide (all plastic), misc. climbing. There's also a firetruck-shaped climbing toy with a small metal slide and miniature monkey bars.
  • The bigger playset has several tube ladders, multilevel platforms, a winding stretch of monkey bars, a wide straight metal slide, spiral plastic slide, and a "bottomless" bar slide (slightly out of shape). Also a set of swings here, 4 bucket and 4 strap.
  • A colorful circle contains several large metal elephants that spray water, on during our visit.
Ages: 1-9
Surface: rubbery/cement
Shade(0-3): 1 (small), 0 (large)
Water: Y
Other: large grassy field (probably several baseball and football grids), basketball, rec. center, skateboard park
Access: open (dawn to dusk?)

Impressions: Nice large open space, if not super-aesthetic. Skate-park (watchable from the shade) and elephant sprayers are particularly nice bonuses. Equipment not in super shape (anti-graffitti blue), but a nice range of offerings.
Overall rating: 7

All the bells and whistles: Gambrel recreation complex

Playground: Billy Gambrel playground
Location: Jackson just west of Wakeling
Date visited: 9/1/12

Equipment: One large playspace, but divisible into three recognizable zones:
  1. Smaller playset has low monkeybars (woot!), miscellaneous climbing, and two medium straight and one taller straight slides (all metal). Also two bucket and four strap swings here, and a 4-seat hobbyhorse-style teeter-totter toy. Also two sets of (curved) hanging bars that spin.
  2. Larger playset area has a standard-ish playset and a super-modern-looking section; every possible variant of challenging monkey bars is represented here -- single rings in long sequences, angled spinning horizontal rings, multiple tracks joining at rounded hubs... Also here are some wobbling hanging platforms (with poles) to step along, and a "balance beam" also mounted on springs, a chain "rope climbing net," and three tall metal slides (2 straight and one spiral).
  3. Large modern sprayground with numerous sprayers coming from the ground around a group of elegant sculptural elements (that may or may not generate water themselves). There are hand switches here, but they didn't seem necessary for full activation when we were there.
Ages: 1-12 (+)
Surface: rubbery/cement
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: Y
Other: football field, baseball fields, basketball, rec. center, some extra grassy areas
Access: 6am-10pm?

Impressions: A welcoming and creative mix of play options for any age, but, rare among city playgrounds, really offering the best challenges for the 8-14 (?) set, with challenging balance and swinging ring zones, wobbly paths to walk, etc. The water came on while we were there (around noon on Saturday) and kept us longer than we otherwise would have stayed, given the lack of shade (despite an extensive pergola, which I guess needs plants). Some loose trash, but not enough to spoil the fun; lack of swings a notable exception to an otherwise fun mix of things. Overall, worth a trip.
Overall rating: 9-10

A variety of play options: Monkiewicz Rec. Center

Playground: Monkiewicz
Location: On Alleghany at I-95/Richmond
Date visited: 8/18/12

Equipment: Two zones on opposite sides of the rec. center building:
  1. Fenced zone for younger kids, including (a) four bucket swings, (b) two hobby horses (stiff, as usual), (c) medium height "space pods" connected by a bridge, (d) a low playset with miscellaneous climbing, a solid bridge, straight metal and curved plastic slides; there is also a circular water feature here with colorful painted ocean scenes and four sprayers, but it was not on during our visit.
  2. The other zone includes (a) an older style jungle gym (a horizontal half-cylinder with misc. ladder elements), (b) room for four strap swings, all missing, (c) a tall playset including spiral plastic slides, monkey bars, and tall climbing.
Ages: 1-10
Surface: rubbery/cement/blacktop
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: Y?
Other: tennis, some grass, bike rack, pool, rec. center, basketball, fenced rink (= hockey? soccer?), baseball fields, brick playspace
Access: unmarked

Impressions: Decent offerings, but cut off from residential neighborhoods by busy streets on three sides, which explains its slightly underloved feel (especially the missing swings). Nice to have a huge grassy space for kicking a ball, a rarity throughout the city.
Overall rating: 6

Fun for the younger set: Frank Glavin playground

Playground: Frank Glavin
Location: On Westmoreland between Almond and Mercer
Date visited: 8/12/12

Equipment: Two zones:
  • The smaller kid zone has (a) two very low "space pods" connected by a solid bridge/tunnel; (b) a low playset including straight metal and curved plastic slides, 3-foot platforms, miscellaneous climbing (including the beginner-friendly "barrel stave" style), and a store front underneath; and (c) four bucket swings. Also in this area are a pair of seals that look like they should be water sprayers, although they were not on during our visit (1:30pm on Saturday).
  • Bigger kid zone has a taller playset with a straight metal slide, curved monkey bars, and lots of climbing. Also six strap swings in this area.
Ages: 1-10
Surface: rubbery around equipment; blacktop elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: Y?
Other: basketball, extra blacktop with painted games, rec. center
Access: 6am-10pm

Impressions: Friendly neighborhood playground offers decent equipment for a range of ages, although in practice it will appeal most to the younger set (say, 2-6) due to the enticing options in the smaller zone. Hot on a summer sunny day with no shade and metal slides, but could be fun with the water turned on...
Pro: Both the Mercer Cafe and the Aramingo Diner are close by for brunch/lunchtime options.
Overall rating: 7