296 S. Whiting Street Park Needs Sprucing Up

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Of all the parks I have visited in Alexandria, as a native Alexandrian and current mother of two children under the age of five, perhaps the little playground at S. Whiting St. is in the most need of attention. To begin, the playground is located on a very small space, without any room to run around. Given that constriction, it is important that the playground have interesting climbing structures and creative spaces for exploration.  The small structure on the playground is lacking in these aspects and more.  The small structure has very rudimentary climbing walls that seem inaccessible to children under five. They should be replaced with something more age-appropriate for climbing.  In addition, there are no easily accessible staris for yong children to walk up the structure and explore the platforms. The platforms themselves do not have sides or railings to keep young children safe and secure while romping around. The slide from the platforms down to the ground is also insufficient.  It is too short and turns very quickly for a young child. It should be replaced with a longer slide. Another slide could be added to another side of the structure.  A tunnel would be another good addition to the space, either connected to the structure or underneath. Moreover, the climbing structure could be improved by some interesting accessories, such as a steering wheel, and/or musical notes (in similar vein to the music levers at the Mason Ave. Park), and/or gears (similar to the turning gears at the YMCA playground). All of these elements provide a deeper sensory experience for the young children accessing this park.In addition, the park currently has two benches near the park entry. A sandbox, see-saw, and/or picnic table could be added to this area, which is currently very under-utilized, vital space in a very small park.  Small, baby swings would also be an important addition to this park. There are currently no swings in the park.I urge the selection committee to focus some of its grant money on this playground. This is a playground that is not meeting the needs of young children at all in its current form. It is located in the middle of a parking lot, surrounded by affordable and public housing, with many young children who could truly benefit from having an outdoor play space within a very short walking distance. It is also not a school playground, so is open throughout the day. Thank you for considering the park at 296 Whiting St. for a Spruce Up grant. 

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