400 S. Van Dorn Street Park

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 The 400 S VAN DORN ST park is nestled inside of an enormous condo complex off S. Van Dorn Street. It is probably the only green space for the numerous, ethnically diverse residents of that community, and as such could really use City resources to help improve it. The park consists of a gated pool (this may be part of the complex, not the City, it was unclear), a sand volley ball court, and a large climbing structure for older children. The climbing structure is perfect for 5+ age children. It has a mulch surface and is surrounded by a timber border. There are two benches for parents that are supervising.  To make this park an ideal destination for nearby families with multi-aged children, I would suggest a few improvements for younger children. First, the park is not fenced. A fence with a gate would allow parents to supervise both younger and older children safely away from the pool and volley ball court. Second, the park could use play apparatus appropriate for smaller children.  Perhaps pieces like those located in the new park at 1 & 7 East Del Ray Ave would be appropriate—“woodland” inspired log tunnels, small climbing structure with slide, “stumps” for climbing and hopping, and the like.  In addition, the park does not have any swings. A number of tot swings, or a mixture of tot and regular swings would certainly be of interest and entertainment for the kids.  Third, I was not able to locate any trash or recycling cans, which should be added. Fourth, the addition of trees to provide shade for young children playing in the grassy area would be nice.  Last, there could potentially be the addition of a small sand box for younger children, perhaps one with a “hood” over it to protect them from the sun. Having open activity space available for younger children, especially in an area that is easily accessible to so many families that are ethnically diverse and socio-economically disadvantaged, should be a priority for Spruce-Up Grants.  I was impressed with the number of activities available to older children, teens, and adults through this diverse park space in the center of a huge housing complex, and hope the City will consider putting some funds into improving the space for younger children as well. 

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