Community to create state-of-the-art playground

Rebeca Oliveira

JACKSON SQ—Together with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Children’s Hospital Boston is helping Jackson Square residents put on a happy face with an upcoming new playground, the team announced at a community meeting held on Dec. 6 at DCR’s Southwest Corridor headquarters.

The 8,000 to 10,000-square-foot space, adjacent to Bromley-Heath, behind the MBTA stop and next to the existing sports court is slated to become the home of “inclusive and accessible toys and structures,” suitable for children of limited mobility, as well as able-bodied children, according to the design team. The designers are hosting a community design day for the playground at the Connolly Library on Jan. 10. [see JP Agenda]

“We want kids to get crayon on paper and tell us what they want,” Lois Lee, medical director of the pediatric injury prevention program at Children’s Hospital, said at the meeting.

“We would love anybody who’s interested to come to that meeting,” Lee told the Gazette in a phone interview this week.

Members of the community will also be invited to help build the playground in May.

“We’re hoping that [the community build] will help with [public] safety,” Lee said. “If the community helps build it, then they’ll keep using it,” she added.

This is the same basketball court where Jaewon Martin was shot and killed last May, in a case of mistaken identity in an ongoing feud between the Bromley-Heath-based Heath Street and the Roxbury-based H-Block gangs.

The design team is hoping to have a finalized design by February, and the ribbon-cutting for the playground is expected to happen in June.

Plans for the playground include a “Wall-holla,” a long and narrow climbing structure that will be the first of its kind in the US, and many other balance-based toys and structures, including a zipline. The “Wall-holla” was nominated for the Dutch Design Awards in 2006.

“Will there be an adults’ night?” Andrea Howley, chair of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, asked at the meeting, showing her enthusiasm for the project.

Samantha Overton, DCR acting director of urban parks, said that play on such toys and structures is “part of a healthy lifestyle” for children 5 to 12, the playground’s target age group.

Safe equipment like the suggested structures, aims for a “balance of risk and safety,” she said.

According to a DCR statement, Children’s Hospital has agreed to raise and provide all the funding for the design and construction of the new playground, estimated to be $315,000.

In response to recent community action, Lee told the 20-member audience at the meeting that there are no plans to use recycled tire mulch on the playground.

State Rep. Jeff Sánchez, Boston Police Officer Mike Santry, who often works on Southwest Corridor safety issues and representatives from City Councilors Felix Arroyo and Mike O’Malley’s offices were present at the meeting.

For more information, or to voice questions, concerns or suggestions, e-mail [email protected]

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