This is the final part in a series looking at the newly-renovated playground in Cambridge Common and examining the concerns of parents and caregivers, particularly those with children in the "tot" age range that the former playground served.
All right, so I’ve got a few issues and reservations about the renovated playground at the Cambridge Common. I’ve definitely made that clear.
But it’s also important to take a step back and look at what’s nice about the park.
Creativity and innovation is admirable. It’s nice to see a playground that tries to depart from the standard plastic sides and climbing structures.
An emphasis on imaginative and interactive play is what we need in an era where a segment of the population believes playing Wii Fit is good physical activity.
The new playground has a garden element, making it feel (when it’s not too crowded) like a relaxing respite from urban life.
It encourages children to interact with each other and encompasses features that the previous park didn’t.
It’s more wheelchair friendly – from the merry-go-round to the handicap-accessible swing.
It encourages climbing, running and playing – all the basic things a park designed for children should.
While it might not best serve the children it was originally target to serve, older kids are definitely enjoying it.
An overheard exchange between two 8-year-old girls at the water table helped put the situation into perspective for me:
“What do you think?” the first girl asked.
“About what?” her friend replied.
“This,” the first said, gesturing around the park.
“Oh you mean the new playground?”
“Well, I like it a lot.”
“Better than the old one?”
“Yeah, me too.”
There are a number of concerns from safety issues to how the city will maintain the playground’s upkeep. Parents of toddlers may feel – at least in the parks honeymoon period – that it’s best to keep their distance, but there are a number of other playgrounds in the area to frequent in the interim.
Sometimes, expectations are not met. Sometimes, experiments fail. But sometimes, as I think is the case here, the result of the experiment might benefit another group then the one it was intended for. The new Kemp Playground is definitely not a tot lot, but in a few years my daughter will be older, more aware of her surroundings and better able to enjoy the renovated playground.
We waited an entire summer for the playground to re-open and fared rather well. I suppose we can wait another summer or two to enjoy it.