Thursday, May 26, 2011

Playground Tour Stop #4: The Long Island College Hospital Playground

The forth stop on our playground tour is one of two playgrounds at Long Island College Hospital. Located on Henry street between Pacific and Amity, this cute little playground has been the subject of some controversy in the past. Unlike the majority of other Brooklyn playgrounds, these two are not owned/maintained by the city, but rather by the hospital itself. Apparently, the hospital created the park and playgrounds as part of a contractual obligation in order to get the park land under which a large parking garage now stands. So in 2008 when Cobble Hill residents began to notice some dangerous conditions due to lack of maintenance, there was quite an uproar from the community. Since they playgrounds are not maintained by the city, the issue couldn't be solved by a simple call to 311 (are those calls ever simple?) and the hospital didn't seem to be responding to attempts to contact them about the issue.The strange thing is... there seems to be virtually no information about what happened after all of this uproar and what kind of upkeep is going on now. (So if any of you have any insight about this, please let us know!) When we visited earlier this week, there were no particularly glaring signs of neglect, but then again I wasn't really looking for any either. I do remember the drainage issue (water pooling up and not properly draining after a storm) being a nuisance in years past, but this was not an issue this week and I don't recall it having been in the past year or so either.

All controversy aside, when we went on Tuesday, this is what we observed:

A brightly painted wooden playground that offers some cool and different equipment than the usual city-run playgrounds. The climbing structures and rather compact and not too high, double layered with shady space to play in beneath them. There are short, yet steep slides (which do tend to overheat in hot/sunny weather), ramps, bridges, flowered steering wheels, binoculars, ladders and more. There is also a spring rocking turtle that the children really enjoy (there was previously a second one as well but it has since been removed). One of the most popular attractions at this playground are the low set swings that most children can operate on their own. The seat of the swings is a regular "big kid" seat but the ropes they are attached to are only about two feet high and connect to a pole on either side that they pivot from... so there is not high overhead pole/structure like there is on most sets. The great thing about this is that most children are able to climb on unassisted and still reach the ground with their toes so that they can totally swing themselves - an awesome thing for both parent and child, as the child get the esteem-building satisfaction of this independence... and the adult doesn't have to stand there and push for 15 minutes! :)

There are shaded benches along the front perimeter, as well as a couple in the back and a row of ones in the middle of the playground (which are mostly unshaded). There are also a couple of pint-size picnic tables in the back as well. One thing that the playground definitely is lacking though is a restroom... as grimy as some park bathrooms can be, most of us really count on having one nearby when there are little ones in tow. So be sure everyone empty their bladders right before you get there and/or make sure you have your travel potty packed. I have never tried to use the restroom at the hospital but I suppose that might be possible... otherwise you'll need to cross over Atlantic to the little cafe Taza or head about a block and a half over to the Moxie Spot (but if you end up at Moxie, be prepared to stay - their kid-haven is never easy to turn any child away from).

I really do like this playground for something a little different when we are an the neighborhood, despite the possible concerns/politics that may be associated with it. So I'm going with a B+ this time - check it out and let us know what you think.

We are seeing a lot of sprinklers and fountains popping up in this weather (and probably some trips to the beach soon as well) so our sign this week is "water".

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