McMorrow playground, the state-owned park along Victory Road in Neponset, currently has the feel of a prison yard, according to some of its harshest critics. Its run-down, worn out structures — with sand and woodchips on the ground— are wrapped entirely by an 18-foot chain-link fence.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and its consultant, Stantec, have developed a complete redesign for the playground and the surrounding areas with an estimated cost of $250,000. Officials from the state agency laid out their plans at a Monday evening meeting at the Leahy-Holloran Community Center, which is adjacent to the park. Work is set to begin in the coming weeks with hopes for a July 1 opening for the improved playground.
The new design provides easier access to the play area and keeps child safety at the forefront of the preferred plan, which officials say offers the most play value the industry can provide, while promoting and enhancing recreational fitness.
The massive fence surrounding the current playground will be removed along with old play structures, including two old slides, a beat-up seesaw, and a swing set missing almost every swing. The current benches and the surface on the playground will also be taken out and replaced.
An entirely new entrance into the playground will be constructed along Victory Road with a new asphalt walkway connecting to the new playground site. The walkway will also continue through the park to connect with the seating area that is located at the end of the existing entrance.
A new structure for ages 2-5 will be situated near the new entrance. This structure will be more traditional, with a deck and slide that will complement the existing 5-12 age structure that will remain intact. A small, circular granite wall will surround the new 2-5 year-olds structure that will provide seating and monitoring of the children playing.
The current deck and slide unit for 5-12 year olds will be kept in its place, but a new structure will also be added for the older children. The new structure will be more modern and something one may never have seen in a playground before. This unit is one that would encourage and challenge the minds of the children along with physical fitness. It is more spread out with unique style and activities that can be done on it.
A new swing set will also be installed in the new playground. The swing set will consist of three bays. The first and second bays will have two swings each, one for older children and the other for toddlers. The third bay will have a swing that can be used by handicapped children.
All of the structures in the play area will be surrounded with “poured in place” rubberized safety surfacing to reduce injuries due to falls from the play equipment. This surface will be less of a mess for families instead of sand or woodchips. It will also allow for longer play during the changing of the seasons because this new surface can be cleaned off if there is bad weather.
The he entire play area will be enclosed with a 4-foot chain link fence. Trees, benches, and picnic tables will be included throughout the area for seating and shade. The final addition will be an installation of a new drinking fountain.