Innovative climbing wall delays playground

June 24, 2011
By

WEB EXCLUSIVE

A community-designed playground planned for Jackson Square is still going ahead, despite being delayed by safety concerns. Construction was originally slated to happen last month, but is now scheduled for the fall.

Because plans for the playground include an innovative play structure, the design team has had to spend longer than anticipated on “making sure all the safety regulations were being followed,” said Lois Lee, medical director of the pediatric injury prevention program at Children’s Hospital Boston.

The “Wall-holla,” a climbing structure that resembles a giant ant farm, will be the first of its kind in the U.S. The structure is a hollow, 16-foot-high wall, with multi-level passages that mimic ant tunnels. The Wall-holla will be the cornerstone of the new playground.

The playground is a joint project between the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and Children’s Hospital Boston, with a large degree of community involvement. There have been two community design meetings so far and there will be at least one more meeting in the fall, Lee said.

A Gazette phone call to DCR was not returned.

The 4,000-square-foot location for the playground is adjacent to the Bromley-Heath housing development, behind the MBTA station and next to the existing sports courts.

Aside from the Wall-holla, the playground is expected to include many other balance-based toys and structures, including a zipline that would allow children with limited mobility as well as able-bodied children to enjoy the playground.

A zipline consists of ropes attached to a pulley on an inclined track, allowing the person holding the rope to zip from one end to the other quickly.

Construction is being funded by Children’s Hospital and community donations. The project is expected to cost $400,000, as the Gazette has previously reported. According to the project’s website, $274,000 has already been raised.

“We’re contacting private donors” and other sources of donations, Lee told the Gazette. “We have a couple of big [fund-raising] pushes coming.”

The team is in the running to win $50,000 from Pepsi’s Refresh Everything Campaign. Community members can vote to support the project at refresheverything.com/buildaplayground.

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