Neighbors invited to design playground

Rebeca Oliveira

Gazette Photo by Rebeca Oliveira
Ten-year-old Gianna DiMarco (center), along with Patrick and George Scanlon, share their thoughts on a new playground design with (left to right) Rick Henke, president of equipment supplier Goric; Janet Hunkel, president of the Parkland Management Advisory Committee; Laura Wildon, a Goric representative; parents Adriana Suarez and Ginanni DiMarco, and project architect and mom Kathleen Scanlon.

JACKSON SQ.—Together with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Children’s Hospital Boston hosted a community meeting for the upcoming new playground at Jackson Square on the Southwest Corridor Park on Jan. 10 at the Connolly Branch Library.

The focus of the meeting was to gather community input for the playground, including design, health and safety concerns. Attendees were concerned about the lack of shade and water during the summer.

“I am excited to see a new playground in an area of the city that needs it,” State Rep. Jeff Sanchéz said at the meeting.

The meeting was attended by about 30 adults and 10 children. The kids were invited to draw what they’d like to see in the playground, and several spent time talking to members of the design team, giving suggestions, as did their parents and other attendees.

Goric, the toy and structure manufacturer, had several samples of their nylon-covered steel cording and rubber surfacing materials available, as well as many color samples.

“This is a great opportunity. I love all the materials [selected],” Adriana Suarez, a parent, said at the meeting of the samples available.

“It’s very innovative. My kids are really excited,” Suarez added.

The 4,000-square-foot location for the playground is adjacent to Bromley-Heath, behind the MBTA stop and next to the existing sports courts. It is slated to become the home of inclusive and accessible toys and structures, suitable for children with limited mobility, as well as able-bodied children, according to the design team.

Plans for the playground include a “Wall-holla,” a long and narrow climbing structure that resembles a large ant farm, and many other balance-based toys and structures, including a zipline.

Ziplines consist 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.The “Wall-holla” was nominated for the Dutch Design Awards in 2006 and will be the first of its kind in the US.

Gianna DiMarco, 10, said at the meeting that she thought the proposed zipline was “a good idea,” but suggested that it have two lines instead of one, mentioning how long she expected the line to be.

“I love the ideas and I want this playground to stay clean” and non-vandalized, said Gianni DiMarco, father to Gianna.

A large portion of the meeting was dedicated to discussing how to minimize vandalism and promote safety in the vicinity of the playground. Suggestions from the community included Blue Light police phones and fencing.

Nearby is the 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.

“I think providing the community with a state-of-the-art park helps change people’s mentality,” about crime and violence, DiMarco said.

The playground will be built this spring, Lois Lee, medical director of the pediatric injury prevention program at Children’s Hospital, said. Selected community members will be invited to join in the construction on a community building day in June. The dedication ceremony is expected to take place soon thereafter, Lee said.

Construction is being funded by Children’s Hospital and community donations, design team member Kate Civetti said. Children’s Hospital is still “definitely still looking for funds,” she said. The project is expected to cost $400,000, $250,000 of which has already been raised.

Sánchez was present at the meeting, as were representatives from state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz’s and City Councillor Ayanna Pressley’s offices and the Boston Police.

Community members wishing to sign up for newsletters and volunteer opportunities regarding the playground can do so by contacting [email protected].

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