In the spring of 2017, after the snow melted on the sledding hill of South Avenue Park behind the Recreation Center at 23 W. Center Street, Beacon's Parks and Recreation Department finished construction of a new playground. However, the playground equipment isn't your traditional swing-set package. Oh, no. In fact, there isn't a swing to be seen - in the traditional sense at least. The new climbing playground is brought to you from the same people who got the Beacon Pool filled up and thriving after years of neglect, as well as the new After School Program, Beacon's enrichment-based childcare program, as well as Beacon's summer camp program, Camp at the Camp.
One could surmise that inspiration for the design was taken from a spider. "The entire playground was designed to include climbing and balancing," says Heidi Harrison, Recreation Assistant with the City of Beacon. "Most of the elements used were chosen because they would be interactive for multiple children at one time."
South Avenue Park is located in a densely populated residential area, where children from elementary to high school age use the area's basketball courts, tennis courts and green spaces. Just last weekend, the annual community-planned South Avenue Community Cookout, organized and executed every year by Leman Anderson and a team of dedicated volunteers, was held for a large crowd of all ages.
Most parks in Beacon are designed for little ones, but the South Avenue Park opens up new opportunities for older kids. Says Heidi: "The inspiration initially came from watching kids walking and balancing on structures at Riverfront Park. Realizing that traditional playground structures don’t always appeal to or accommodate the pre-teens and teenage kids, this style seemed to be a great option. It suits all ages, as well as parents and caregivers, to play along with their kids. Or by themselves!"
The climbing structures take a bit of thought before climbing onto or spinning around. "The kids seem to really enjoy the ability to free play, use their imagination, and cooperate with each other, to bring the structures to life," observes Heidi of how kids have been using the equipment during its first season. "It takes a bit of work and a helping hand for some of the equipment, which brings play, exercise, and learning to help your friend, for the greatest experience."
Funding for the equipment and installation came from the Recreation Fund, Capital Plan, and City Budget. The Parks Department has been conducting creative ways of fundraising, however, for more direct community support for better budgets to work with. Projects have included the Cannonball Run, as well as being the recipient of the 2017 fundraising effort, For Goodness Bake.
Never a dull moment at West Center Street, the Beacon Parks and Recreation Department has more big plans in the works, including Court resurfacing at Memorial Park, a new pavilion at Riverfront Park, and new retaining walls at South Avenue Park. In development, according to Heidi, is a Skate Park (see a City Council video about it here), Climbing Gym, Reconstruction of Bathrooms & Changing Rooms at The Beacon Pool, and an expansion of Wee Play Tot Park.