This iteration of FlybyFriday takes us to Old Towne Park in Branchburg, New Jersey where anyone living in Somerset County should make a point of visiting.
This park brings validity to the concept that any project can be improved upon. Making changes to a park or play space does not always require the demolition of old, introduction of new, and hundreds of thousands of dollars at once. Separating a project into phases over the span of multiple years in some cases can result in the area always looking brand new!
Our involvement with this park began as early as 2005, with the thought process of replacing the old 5-12 play unit while maintaining the existing 2-5 unit. In place of the existing unit went a new BCI Burke structure along with a two-bay swingset in a seperate area to help space the play areas. To accompany the new structures, a new border system and ADA ramps were installed around the perimeter of the play units. While border systems may appear insignificant, they in fact are a telltale of a play space's age and condition. Similar to how a piece of artwork can be tarnished if the frame is broken or cracked, replacing broken border pieces or installing a new curb line with fresh pavers can make your play structure really stand out! The same can be said for surfacing. Aside from compliance needs, restoring engineered wood fiber (EWF) can even make existing structures look brand new.
Fast forward to 2019, the town was ready to perform the next stage of improvements, and we were ready to help. This time the project included the replacement of the oldest play structure, installation of a poured in place (PIP) rubber system, a perimeter retaining wall, and a concrete entrance path to connect the play area with the parking lot. We have alwys believed in the in the inclusion of all kids when it comes to creating play value, so this was a project we were very excited to get on board with from the beginning.
To start, the existing structure, border sections and EWF had to be excavated and disposed of. As a natural material EWF has a tendency to decay, so it is common to find years of material layered on top of each other when excavating--which can yield pretty messy results! Removing all decaying material is important when preparing the base for PIP, otherwise the material will continue to decay resulting in bellies and pockets in the PIP years down the line.
With a benchmark established, the new play equipment was installed. Made to match the existing structure, the new Burke play structure posessed the same earth color scheme to help blend the structures to appear as if everything is brand new. The highlight of the new equipment remains the completely ADA accessible ramp that allows for disabled children to easily scale the unit and enjoy the same value of play as everyone else. Getting the elevation of the play unit in allignment with the determined finish surface height was a crucial task as it had to allow for seemless entrance and exit. Evident in the finished product, we ar every happy to see the goal was accomplished with ease.
As previously mentioned framing the artwork is just as important as the artwork itself, and in this case the addition of a of a retaining wall helped define the play space. Varying between a single and triple course depending on location, the wall was capped off to provide a clean edge for the PIP glue to adhere to. Implementing a real stone border ties the play structure's colors with the surrounding environment in a really positive way. The end result is a play space that naturally fits in the park!
The final portion of the project revolved around completing access between the play space and the parking lot. The concrete walkway began at the handicap designated parking spots, and curved up the hill, past the entrance to the swingset, and to the designated entrance into the PIP area. The unique feature about the PIP in this park is that it slopes up to allow easy transition between the concrete and play area. A smooth transition allows for every user to safely enjoy the parks features.
A park does not always need to have the most sophisticated equipment to put a smile on faces. Sometimes, it is the simple pleasures such as a swingset, and accessible ramp that reminds kids that play is meant for everyone to enjoy. We are very proud to have been involved with Old Towne Park over the years with Ben Shaffer Recreation, and look forward to helping in any way that we can to provide new improvements. Like Leonardo Da Vinci once said, "a masterpiece is never finished, only abadoned".
Be sure to check out the slideshow below of the finished project, along with links to Ben Shaffer's and BCI Burke's website. Stay tuned till next time to see the extrodinary play spaces we work on at Corby Associates!
Manufacturer: BCI Burke
Supplier: Ben Shaffer Recreation