November 22, 2009
Unique surface, fun equipment make new Lockwood Park playground a gem
Lockwood Park is better known for its sledding hill in November than its playground.
But an unseasonably beautiful weekend turned out to be the perfect time for city officials and neighbors to celebrate completion of a community-built playground and other improvements at the city park, located near Ohio Street and Graceland Boulevard.
Alderman Aron Wisneski led a brief ceremony to rededicate Lockwood Park. He stood on one of the playground's new bridges with City Administrator Tom Friedel, Parks manager Tom Molbeck and several other people who worked for more than two years to take the playground from an idea to reality.
The Lockwood Park playground is Racine's only "boundless" playground. If you visit, the first thing you'll notice is a bright blue surface underneath the equipment. When you step on it, it has a soft, bouncy feel. The surface is easier to walk on than sand or wood chips used under most playgrounds, but still safe if someone happens to fall.
The boundless surface is designed for children with special needs - like a walker or wheelchair - or adults who have a hard time on uneven surface. For example, a grandparent with a bad hip who still wants to play with their grandchild. It's the first playground of its type in Racine.
Along with the surface, the playground has some unique equipment. Kids and adults were having fun playing on the "Tilted Skyrunner" and the "Xcelerator," two modern takes on the merry-go-round, a climbing wall and a jungle gym with handicap-accessible ramps. (A few adults noted the equipment looked "dangerous." Designers worked to incorporate risk - because that makes it fun for kids - but to remove hazards, which increase the chances of injury.)
He also thanked the Racine Community Foundation for a grant for the playground and a nearby basketball court.
Neighborhood and community residents helped build the playground back in August. The city then resurfaced the park's parking lot and had to finish up some landscaping work before the playground could officially open on Saturday.
More work is planned for Lockwood Park, Wisneski said. Benches, a butterfly garden and a children's sculpture area area all in the works. But, he added, the real work that needs to be done on the park is for people to enjoy it.
"A playground and park is never done," Wisneski said. "It's only viable as long as we use it."