Cambridge Common Playground Review - Part 5 - The Playground's Positives

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?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I like it a lot.”

“Better than the old one?”

“Uh-huh.”

“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.

Part 1: Braving the Crowds
Part 2: From Tot Lot to Lots of Tots Left Out
Part 3: The Setup Is a Letdown
Part 4: Playing It (Un)Safe

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

This is a bit out of character for me to comment on a blog, especially about parenting, as I often either keep my comments to myself or share them in the safety of a group of like-minded friends. Myself, my 3 year old and a number of his 3 year old friends and parents are thrilled with this new park in the Cambridge Common. Of course, I agree with your positive comments in Part 5 of this series - it is aesthetically beautiful, interactive, encourages fantasy play, etc. In addition to that, I love how it challenges him physically and intellectually. Do I get concerned that he may drop a big block on his toe? Sure. But the payoff in his gain of confidence from building a structure with a new friend or mastering the pulley system far outweighs my fear.

What seems to be the underlying issue here is how we parent, not how the park was designed. It's obviously our responsibility as parents to look after our children and keep them safe. But isn't it also our responsibility to give them opportunity to grow by letting them test their limits to gain confidence and independence?

Kathleen Hart, kathyhartfreedman@gmail.com

I have never been to your park area since I live in another state. However, I do not understand why the "tot area" was left out of the planning. The new equipment appears to be a welcome change based on your comments and that is a good thing. But it also sounds like every child can enjoy this equipment except toddlers. I can only guess that was part of the original plan for your park. If so, was it a safety concern? My wife and I have four children that are grown up now but they did have equipment available to them at all ages. I hope someone can address that issue for you with your park committee. casino en ligne

There is loads for toddlers at this park - sand, water play, swings, slides. Sadly, this fantastic new park is getting a pretty harsh review here because there is also plenty for older kids. My 3 year old son and his friends love it. If you are a parent who keeps an eye on your kids at the park and who wants to give your kids the opportunity to develop new skills and confidence, then this is great park for you.

I have to say I agree with the review. Sure it's about parents watching their kids but the real issue I found was that a lot of parents AREN'T. I think that was one of the issues that Maria was addressing here although she didn't come out and say completely is that a lot of us don't have an issue parenting our kids and playing with our kids at the park, but you run into issues when other parents don't. That was certainly the case in my experience. As for me, I don't feel comfortable parenting other people's kids but there was a lack of supervision at the park from the parents of older kids. I am not trying to complain but that is just a fact. We live near the park and I took my my daughter who is two and a half and my niece who is 8 the weekend it opened. It was ACTUALLY my niece that asked if we could go somewhere else because she saw how it was NOT that fun an experience for my daughter. I was really concerned with the blocks and didn't even want my child around them and it wasn't because I was worried she would drop one on her toe but because I was worried she would get hit by one of them as other kids were literally throwing them at each other when we were there. I asked them to stop a few times, but they did not and it certainly didn't seem like their parents were there. It's not just about parenting your own kid. I personally like the old park better as far as my daughter's being able to use it. I have also talked to friends about it and they agree with me and basically with this review. We could probably go back and forth all day about people that think it's great and people unhappy with it, but it seems fair to say not everyone is thrilled with the park.

Submitted by Anonymous on

yes thanks, very interesting article