Friday, September 7, 2012

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

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