Many parks and recreation departments across the United States develop an important planning tool referred to as The Park Classification Plan. This plan is an effort on the part of community planners to ensure that residents have available the proper number of parks, in the best locations for use, with just the right amenities. This requires a thoughtful collection of key information and the application of high quality decision making. Playgrounds, associated areas, and equipment are critical to a well-conceived park plan. The following is a quick refresher in the development of this planning tool.
My staff and I conduct playground safety audits all over the country and we often find confusion (by owners, designers, users, and maintenance crews) on what type of equipment should be reviewed to the playground standards. My hope is that the following article can provide some clarification to the confusion. As with many aspects of life, there is a lot of gray and very little black and white on this issue, and I would strongly suggest contacting your equipment manufacturer to receive their opinions.
THE QUESTION: Which came first? The chicken or the egg. Man has been pondering this question forever and now I feel like I am in the middle of the same conundrum with regards to performance requirements for play equipment versus performance requirements for impact attenuation surfaces within the play equipment use zone.
I visited the Tumbling Bay Playground in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park after my Open House Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park tour last weekend. A real inspiration for play ground design. No boundary fence, spiky planting used as part of the planting mix, natural elements used in construction and a real sense of danger in the play equipment.