At a community meeting held on March 3rd, the Parks Department and Weston & Sampson presented their current preferred design for the upcoming renovation to the Fallon Field playground. This design was based on community feedback from the design alternatives presented in February, the design team’s professional opinions and experience, and budget considerations. Please note that this is not the final design for the playground; it is the currently preferred design, and it can still be changed based on community feedback or other factors. As always, you can (and should!) send additional feedback to Cathy Baker-Eclipse at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also view the meeting presentation and read the feedback captured by the parks department.
When comparing the proposed design to the earlier design alternatives, it is clear that the design has preserved the basic layout of Concept A while also incorporating Concept C’s central feature, the spray deck that uses boulders and decks to increase play value. Few features appear to have been brought forward from Concept B; the additional pathways through the “buffer zone” between the play area and the courts are the only obvious similarity.
The overall concept is to provide two levels of play areas, with the upper area dominated by the playground’s spray deck and the lower level featuring play structures and swings. The design makes ample use of the embankment between the two tiers, incorporating several play features that the children can use when traversing the playground.
The signature feature of this design is clearly its spray deck, which uses boulders, decks, and a seating area to provide children (and adults!) opportunities for exploration and play while also getting soaked and staying cool. The feedback from the February meeting showed a clear preference for this style of spray deck, shown in Concept C, over the simpler splash pads shown in Concepts A and B.
The concept’s embankment zone provides multiple play opportunities for children to use as they move between the upper and lower levels of the playground. There are three slides – a curved embankment slide, an extra-wide slide, and a smaller slide for younger children (see below). To get back up to the top there will be top ropes and climbing hand holds. There will also be “stadium seating” on the embankment, which will do double duty as stairs and a seating area.
The playground’s structures will be located at the bottom of the embankment, in an area referred to by the design team as the “bowl”. The large play structure is an innovative climber with a design that is a significant departure from the more traditional structures seen in most nearby playgrounds. There will also be swings, both traditional and a tandem swing that allows two riders to interact with each other while swinging. Behind the more traditional swings, there are two spinners, one designed for group play and one for individual play.
Young Children’s Play
The playground concept includes an area designed specifically for young children, at the southern end of the embankment. This area will include a playhouse and a “timber scramble” that transitions into the embankment. The young children’s slide will be included in this section of the embankment, flanked by the timber scramble and climbing hand holds that kids can use to return to the top of the slide.
The secret garden is largely designed to provide a buffer between the play area and the tennis court and hockey rink immediately to the south of the playground. The inclusion of this area is largely a practical matter, as it provides a solution to the problem of sculpting the embankment area and introducing the spray deck while also preserving the playground’s mature oak trees. The designers are hoping to take advantage of this space by laying it out in a way that provides interest to both children and adults.
A Few More Details
Unlike the current playground, this design includes a path that circles the entire play area. In order to make use of the existing fences along the courts, this walkway crosses the fence twice – on the western and southeastern edges of the playground – creating gates at both locations. This design also introduces a new entrance to the east, meaning that there would be three different gates leading to the playground, as opposed to the single gate that we have today.
Bikes and Strollers
The design as shown does not show bike racks or a dedicated area for strollers. There will be bike racks, although the location has not been decided on. There is no dedicated stroller area, as the design is spacious enough to accommodate strollers throughout.
Budget and Timeline
This design reflects an increase to the renovation budget that has been approved by the mayor, and the representatives from Weston and Sampson indicate that they feel that they have maximized the play value of the design while working right up against that budget. Meanwhile, the timeline for the renovation may potentially be impacted by – you guessed it – snow. The parks department has been unable to complete a survey of the site, and until they can there are design features that cannot be finalized.