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#1 of 29 Old 02-13-2013, 09:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Our home sits in front of a city park, which is one of the reasons I chose this house.  It has been a peaceful refuge of nature to escape to and I find myself falling more and more in love with it as the years pass.  Only a few months after we moved in, some kids were playing with fire one day at the park which resulted in a large fire that destroyed the very large playground structure.  A couple of trees burned, as well.  It was a devastating loss for our neighborhood.  

I have spent the past two and a half years working with our neighborhood association and countless local and national community resources as well as researching a diverse spectrum of playground styles in an effort to get educated, pool resources and rebuild the play structure.  Now, the exciting time is finally here!  We have generous funding and a team of experts ready to move forward quickly. And thank goodness I’ve been doing my research because I have the honor of representing the neighborhood in this project.

In talking with my own and other local children and contemplating the design of the playground, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really want to focus on quality over quantity.  We have the option to either put in one of those massive contraptions with all the bells and whistles OR to do separate independent pieces that are more simplified.  The main pieces that I'm hearing the most demand for are swings, monkey bars, and some sort of spinning contraption such as this -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oX-6LWnKHkU.  

If we go with the separate pieces, the ‘fall zone’ for each piece must be much larger in diameter than the overlapping fall zones that are permitted in the design of combination structures.  This will result in fewer pieces of equipment to play on due to the space constraints.  In contemplating all of the options, however, I keep thinking that we’d get more use out of the equipment that kids say they enjoy the most instead of a more traditional structure.  The kids often point out to me that many playgrounds they’ve played at have equipment that looks really cool but in which they ultimately determine the play value isn’t as appealing in use as it is to look at.  These are mostly bigger kids who have a good amount of playground experience under their belt by now.  

What do you think?  What is your idea of the perfect playground?  If you have some especially fun equipment in your neck of the woods, please share whatever details you can on it.

These pieces are going to, hopefully, be in use for many generations to come.  I really want to be sure the neighborhood will get the most out of whatever is built.

 


Thank you!

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#2 of 29 Old 02-13-2013, 10:23 PM
 
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My kids are. Older so I'm totally out of the loop on what is "cool" right now. However, I do work for a Parks and Rec dept and just went to a seminar on the ADA and playgrounds. Some pretty stringent specifications came on board in March of last year. I would start there.
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#3 of 29 Old 02-14-2013, 09:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your reply.  :)

 


The team includes several playground architects and planners hired by the city and so we're already choosing from equipment that comes from ADA-approved sources.  I'm hoping to hear some general ideas of what people and their children enjoy playing on at playgrounds.  Also, I should clarify that the equipment we're installing is going to be geared mainly toward older children and teenagers (but also still some pieces user-friendly for younger children) because the park already has a toddler swingset.  So, we're looking for pieces specifically designed to handle a lot of weight and larger body size.

 

 

 

 

Here are a few pieces that we're considering:

 

Arch Swingset:  http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-swings

 

F-4 spinner:  http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-motion

 

Rock N' Rider:  http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-motion

 

Galaxy spinner:  http://crs4rec.com/crs-products/crs-fun-on-land/play-equipment/xccent-play/independent-play/

 

Atom climber:  http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-climbers#Atom

 

Ion X-Wave 2:  http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-x-wave

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#4 of 29 Old 02-14-2013, 06:55 PM
 
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I will pipe up and say that if there is space, I suspect you will find lots of grateful people if there is a separate and reserved area or piece of euipment for the littles.  The big kids like it, and the little kids' Mamas like it.  The littles seem a bit jealous... but it's a small price to pay to be able to take your 1 year old to the playground and not have her mowed over by a 5 year old/ in the 5 year old's way.

 

How awesome for you and your neighborhood! 
 

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#5 of 29 Old 02-16-2013, 07:58 AM
 
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Depends on your location but some shade or shelter from the elements is nice for caregivers and to give the kids a break when they aren't on the play equipment. I find it's often an overlooked amenity in many playgrounds. 

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#6 of 29 Old 02-16-2013, 08:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you, friends!

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#7 of 29 Old 02-20-2013, 11:37 AM
 
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One of our favorite local parks has a rope climbing structure like this.  It's always getting used by all ages,  has never seemed to have any issues in the past (10 or so) years we've gone there that have taken in out of service.  It is also really fun as an adult.  It is rather big, however.  

 

 

Of your choices, there are a few parks we go to with things that rock/move and you ride on (like the wave or rock/ride thing) - and they've often seemed to end up out of service multiple times a year.  Simpler, huge wooden seesaw (or whatever a modern equivalent is) might be more durable.

 

I love the climber you pictured - there never seem to be enough places with things to climb around us, and it's a favorite.  The classic dome climbers are great too.  

 

Dd1's school has a single spinner similar to what you'd pictured above and from what I've always heard it is very popular.   

 

 

I'll personally ditto choosing individual pieces like a basic swing set, climbing thing, and something else over a big multi-piece unit.  And consider taking into consideration what other nearby parks do or don't have (If they all have slides, for example - easy to leave out.  If they all happen to have good climbing structures, maybe err smaller for that, etc.)

 

Things like painted hopscotch on the ground/foursquare/etc. are also easy to fit places and can be lots of fun.  

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#8 of 29 Old 02-20-2013, 06:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Mumkimum, thank you so much for all of your helpful advice!  You make some really good points.  

 

I love the rope climbing structure you linked to -- it's in one of the company's catalog's that we're looking at.

 

I did take into consideration a lot of damage/problem-related concerns and researched several of the pieces I listed above with prevention of that in mind.  Fortunately, the spinning pieces listed above are all in the very-low-maintenance category.  I agree that it's definitely important to minimize risks in this area for the reasons you mentioned.  I hadn't thought about the rocking pieces experiencing frequent disrepair but it makes sense that they could.  FWIW, the technology in this particular rocker is unique in several ways according to the manufacturer (no spring; fully-enclosed mechanism).

 

I think it's great that you also favor individual play structures.  All the local children I've talked with say the same thing.  It is fascinating to me that there aren't more parks designed this way.  Love the hopscotch suggestion.  Thank you!

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#9 of 29 Old 02-20-2013, 07:54 PM
 
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I love all of the pieces you have chosen. They all have a unique takeon your standard fare of playground equipment.

I agree with the pp who suggested a shade structure. Also several benches, and ideally picinic tables. It's so nice to be able to take the kids to the park and have lunch there. And maybe a couple extra trash cans more than you think you might need. The parks in my area always have the trash bins overflowing and swarming with bees in the summertime.

The only things I would add is a rope climbing activity (which I see someone else also suggested) and a tunnel or playhouse stucture that is kid sized and will accomodate 4 or 5 kids at once to be inside it.

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#10 of 29 Old 02-21-2013, 02:39 AM
 
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The coolest piece of equipment I've ever seen at a playground is a giant wooden hamster wheel. It was basically a cylinder made of planks of wood - fairly smooth, but the planks were narrow and provided a bit of grip - and big enough for an adult to stand. You could just use it as a treadmill, running in place, or you could have some kids run to make it spin while other kids sat on the floor and kept sliding down the walls as they rose. It was neat!


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#11 of 29 Old 02-21-2013, 10:59 AM
 
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My local park has a "Rock N' Rider" and I've never seen kids use it (and we're at the park a LOT). It looks really cool and maybe the kids in your neighborhood would like it, but the ones in mine don't use it much.


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#12 of 29 Old 02-21-2013, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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MamaInTheDesert, those are all great suggestions.  We do plan to use whatever is leftover in the budget for benches and trash cans (there are already several picnic table sets in the area).  The shade structure idea is probably not going to work because the city is concerned about another fire incident, but we do have a good amount of trees available for shading.

 

There will be a good amount in the budget leftover to work with due to the laws surrounding fall zones of independent play pieces and how they're not allowed to be overlapping, which will necessitate fewer pieces of equipment altogether.

 

 

 

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Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

The coolest piece of equipment I've ever seen at a playground is a giant wooden hamster wheel. It was basically a cylinder made of planks of wood - fairly smooth, but the planks were narrow and provided a bit of grip - and big enough for an adult to stand. You could just use it as a treadmill, running in place, or you could have some kids run to make it spin while other kids sat on the floor and kept sliding down the walls as they rose. It was neat!

 

 

That sounds amazing!  I'm going to go Google that . . . 

 

 

 

 

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Originally Posted by ShyingViolet View Post

My local park has a "Rock N' Rider" and I've never seen kids use it (and we're at the park a LOT). It looks really cool and maybe the kids in your neighborhood would like it, but the ones in mine don't use it much.

 

 

Good feedback, thank you!  I am surprised to learn that and will adjust our list accordingly.  I was only going by theory and real-world experience is much more useful.  I only want to invest in equipment with strong play value.  No room for mediocre on this playground!!

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#13 of 29 Old 02-28-2013, 08:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Things are progressing very quickly and I want to share the updated list of the equipment that we're getting.  Please continue sharing your feedback!  smile.gif

 

 

 

  1. Swing Set and ADA Swing :: http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-swings
  2. F-4 Spinner :: http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-motion#F-4   -and-   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oX-6LWnKHkU 
  3. Stand-Alone Reactor Wheel :: http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/classix-overhead-motion#Reactor   -and-   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeL-IA0w4Jg 
  4. Atom Climber :: http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-climbers#Atom 
  5. Balance Beam (traditional standard straight-line style) 
  6. Horizontal Ladder (traditional standard monkey bars) 
  7. Axis Spinner (link below)
  8. Periwinkle (teeter totter) (link below)

 

 

 

The last two items were invented so recently that there are hardly any photos and no videos available, but you can see one small photo of each on the Xccent Play Company's virtual catalog at the following links:

 

 

 

At the above links, please run a search for:

Axis Spinner :: item 'D' on page 149 (product # 48751)

Periwinkle (teeter totter) :: item 'C' on page 138 (product # 41430)

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#14 of 29 Old 03-01-2013, 12:34 PM
 
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I think you've made great choices!! I'm sure the kids will love it.


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#15 of 29 Old 03-02-2013, 08:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you!
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#16 of 29 Old 03-03-2013, 10:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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. . . and now I've come across this amazing thing!

 

 

http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/lappset-axiom#Axiom_Spinning_Machine

 

 

(in case it doesn't appear on the page with the 'Spinning Machine', click the small photo in the lower right corner.)

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#17 of 29 Old 03-06-2013, 06:14 PM
 
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We have the exact same swing set you chose at a local playground, and it is easily the most used ice of equipment. We also have a plastic structure with several slides and a little house area, and the older kids tend to hang out there. They don't bother with our climber as much. The tire swing gets a lot of use.

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#18 of 29 Old 03-09-2013, 10:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Isn't it amazing how popular ordinary swings are still, even after the invention of all the latest playground equipment?  Swings have been the first thing that ALL of the neighborhood kids I've talked with have requested for our new playground..

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#19 of 29 Old 03-17-2013, 02:51 AM
 
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This is Perdido Children's Park in Pensacola, Florida.  I once asked my children what their favorite playground was of all time -- and they all wanted this park.  It was built by the community and is a MEGA park...so quite unrealistic for most municipal groups.  but you may want to submit your question to their planning committee.  They did a lot of surveying of children before designing it.

 

http://pensacolawithkids.com/2009/07/perdido-kids-park/

 

 

 


 

 

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#20 of 29 Old 03-17-2013, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That is an amazing playground, indeed!  Thank you for sharing!

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#21 of 29 Old 03-17-2013, 02:12 PM
 
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I have been reading this for sometime and we live in a city with several new playgrounds and frankly most are not very usable!

 

The equipment is one thing, there just seems to be a few things that are missing (may or may not apply in your case OP) - #1 bathrooms! lack there of- older people and small children go- and local stores (one new playground is not even near anything!!) don't take kindly to asking and when none are around that shortens or doesn't even make us want to go there

#2 seating - if you are elderly and are watching small children - good luck having a seat (in my area) - we have one and they only have ONE bench 

 

 

 

Quote:
Depends on your location but some shade or shelter from the elements is nice for caregivers and to give the kids a break when they aren't on the play equipment. I find it's often an overlooked amenity in many playgrounds. 

me too!!

 

#3 I would love some SHADE added to a playground - for the young parent with the baby and the older grandparents, with seats under it

 

these tend to be all after thoughts (as when the complaints come in)

 

doesn't matter how great the stuff is for the kids, if the person going along is not happy with the accommodations-IMO 

good luck


 

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#22 of 29 Old 03-17-2013, 03:16 PM
 
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Teeter-totters.  They're getting scarce, but they are very, very, very popular with the kids I know, to the point that I've seen dd and her friend build one themselves, and my kids specifically request to go find one. 
 

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#23 of 29 Old 03-18-2013, 09:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Serenbat, all good points.  There's currently no funding available for building a bathroom or providing any additional shade at this park, but there are some large nearby trees that shade the area significantly.  Benches are coming along with the equipment we're purchasing and there are already multiple table/chair sets at the site.  I'm definitely in agreement about caregiver comfort level!

 

 

Rachelsmama, that is good to learn!  One of the items we're ordering (the Periwinkle) is a teeter totter for little ones.  :D

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#24 of 29 Old 03-19-2013, 08:33 AM
 
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bathrooms are a make or break for us- simply needing to wash hands!

 

we have one park and it over looks the local river- very nice equipment, lots of stuff to do, a nice stone wall to look at the river so your back is to the playground (so smart!!), and now ONE bench for the whole area & no bathroom and no place near by to go greensad.gif no one uses it and they spent a ton to do and it's maybe 3 years old and every time you go past - no one there


 

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#25 of 29 Old 04-03-2013, 05:42 PM
 
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Honestly I'm not sure why bathrooms would be needed in a neighborhood playground. Lack of bathrooms would probably discourage people from outside the neighborhood from driving in to use it. 

 

I do agree with others that it would be disappointing for a playground to be built for 'older kids and teenagers' while not providing any appropriate place for younger kids to play. It seems odd for any playground to be built with teenagers in mind. All I've ever seen teens do at playgrounds is make noise and smoke.

 

Benches with some sort of shade would be great. There are lots of shade structures available to match the equipment.

 

Definitely keep any combined structures open so parents can most all of it. Kids tend to hide in little nooks and you never know if a creepy adult is sitting in there.

 

FWIW, there are spring mounted things here for kids to play on and I have never seen one broken although they get lots of use.

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#26 of 29 Old 04-04-2013, 06:36 AM
 
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Honestly I'm not sure why bathrooms would be needed in a neighborhood playground. Lack of bathrooms would probably discourage people from outside the neighborhood from driving in to use it. 

 

I do agree with others that it would be disappointing for a playground to be built for 'older kids and teenagers' while not providing any appropriate place for younger kids to play. It seems odd for any playground to be built with teenagers in mind. All I've ever seen teens do at playgrounds is make noise and smoke.

 

 

I've been caught short needing a bathroom, either for my kids or myself, at the neighbourhood playground. It's a pain to have to pack everyone up and go home just for that reason. It's also convenient to have bathrooms a few steps away during the potty learning years. I know some people allow their children to use the bushes or grass in the playground when there are no bathrooms but that's not something I could ever bring myself to do with my kids. 

 

Also, I'm not sure why anyone would want to discourage people from outside a neighbourhood to drive in to use it. That sounds very insular.

 

I feel for teenagers. It seems like once kids get to be about 13 or so, everyone would appreciate it if they just disappeared from the landscape. I'm not sure where they are supposed to hang out. No one wants them in neighbourhood parks. The malls discourage them from collecting there. If they are lounging around street corners, people are wary. I suspect the ideal for many people would be for teenagers to spend 6 years of their lives cocooned in their bedrooms or parents' basements until they emerged as fully formed adults ready to go to college or join the working world. Sad. 

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#27 of 29 Old 04-04-2013, 06:47 AM
 
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I work for a city P&R department.  Unfortunately, bathrooms are REALLY expensive.  Honestly with their budget, if they put in bathrooms there would probably be just a bench and a trash barrel.  They way I'm understanding it this is a neighborhood park, not a destintion park.  So it is going to be waaay cool.

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#28 of 29 Old 04-04-2013, 07:08 AM
 
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I work for a city P&R department.  Unfortunately, bathrooms are REALLY expensive.  Honestly with their budget, if they put in bathrooms there would probably be just a bench and a trash barrel.  They way I'm understanding it this is a neighborhood park, not a destintion park.  So it is going to be waaay cool.

 

 

Yeah, I know that there is a budget issue, as the OP mentioned. I guess I'm just envious of all of the non-North American countries that seem to be able to provide public toilets, not just in parks (duh, obvious place, as far as I'm concerned) but also elsewhere in their cities. Clean, well-maintained public toilets. What a novel concept. Sigh.  

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#29 of 29 Old 04-09-2013, 02:12 PM
 
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I've been caught short needing a bathroom, either for my kids or myself, at the neighbourhood playground. It's a pain to have to pack everyone up and go home just for that reason. It's also convenient to have bathrooms a few steps away during the potty learning years. I know some people allow their children to use the bushes or grass in the playground when there are no bathrooms but that's not something I could ever bring myself to do with my kids. 

 

Also, I'm not sure why anyone would want to discourage people from outside a neighbourhood to drive in to use it. That sounds very insular.

 

I feel for teenagers. It seems like once kids get to be about 13 or so, everyone would appreciate it if they just disappeared from the landscape. I'm not sure where they are supposed to hang out. No one wants them in neighbourhood parks. The malls discourage them from collecting there. If they are lounging around street corners, people are wary. I suspect the ideal for many people would be for teenagers to spend 6 years of their lives cocooned in their bedrooms or parents' basements until they emerged as fully formed adults ready to go to college or join the working world. Sad. 

 

Having lived near a neighborhood playground I have to say that I don't really want people driving in from outside the neighborhood, parking in front of my house, letting their kids walk on/play in my yard and make noise or trample plants, allow their kids to take toys from our yard to the playground, leave garbage at the playground or in my yard, and bring obnoxious kids who 'claim' the playground as their own then yell at kids who live there when they try to play. Maybe it's selfish but there are plenty of public playgrounds, a playground a neighborhood pays for and maintains doesn't need to be available to the public just like a swing set in someone's backyard doesn't need to be open to whomever happens to be driving by. 

 

I didn't say I don't feel for teenagers or think they should hide away. I said that it seems odd to me to create a 'play space' for teens but not bother to make one for little kids. It's great if they want to make a place for teens but, if they do, there should be a place for toddlers as well. At the playground we lived near the only time teens came by was to sit around (not a big deal), talk loudly, swear, smoke, drink, and make out. They would leave cigarette butts and empty drink bottles laying around. When people came by with kids they would see the teens and leave. This was in a nice, upscale area. The play equipment there was plenty big enough for the teens to go on but they choose to sit around and do other things. I'm not sure how much use a teen play area would get. In my experience teens would be more likely to hang out at picnic tables or benches, which would be nice for everyone anyway.

 

Bathrooms are a different issue. I can see both sides of it. I think the biggest problem, aside from initial cost, would be maintaining the bathrooms. Someone would have to go there daily to clean them, refill the toilet paper, check for maintenance problems, etc. When a sink breaks or a toilet overflows there could be a big mess to clean and expensive repairs to deal with. Probably less of an issue but still possible is people using the bathrooms for drug use or just for shelter if they are homeless. I can see where a small group wouldn't want to deal with all that and/or would rather not put up the money to build and maintain them. I don't think the lack of bathrooms would be all that unusual but maybe it's a regional thing. I'm trying to think of any relatively small neighborhood playgrounds where bathrooms are available and can't come up with any. I know I wouldn't expect bathrooms at a playground.

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