The desire for improved playground equipment in Sunset Park came up again on the Sunset Park Parents group, and the Sunset Park playground is often the subject of heavy sighs and snarky comments. It's also incredibly crowded, which speaks to the popularity of the space despite the complaints. Then again, it may just mean that the many, many children in the area are desperate for playspaces (or their parents/caretakers are desperate to get them out and about).
Recently, one of the SPP group parents visited the Harmony Playground in Park Slope and was reminded that Sunset kids don't get funky water features (although the spitting sun is pretty funky with its new graffiti) and that one of the play areas has plywood covering broken floorboards. This one actually had one of the rods meant to keep kids from tumbling down, tumble down. Granted, it was because a teenager was sitting on it (and he promptly looked very innocent and said, "Damn. That's dangerous for the little kids. They need to fix that."). The Parks staff had it fixed with duct tape by the next day, and it was fixed more permanently within a couple of days. Much more quickly than I expected, to be honest. The run-down play area is actually the shorter one. I'm guessing it's designed for toddlers.
In fact, the overriding opinion on the SPP board seems to be that a completely separate area for toddlers, or pre-school and younger, would be ideal. Since several daycare centers and several elementary schools use the playground for daily recess breaks and for special outings, it can become quite the madhouse for the belly-first walkers, even before the 3 PM onslaught.
I took a closer look at the other two play areas today, and while they aren't sparkling or fancy or particularly clean, they do seem safe and in decent repair. The troublesome space seems to be the oldest one: the one made of actual wood. The one meant for the littlest kids.
There's a meeting of interested parents planned, and the enthusiasm seems very high. Hopefully progress can be made towards more child-friendly equipment. The concentration of young 'uns in the area shows now sign of slowing, that's for sure.