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When the Town of Westbrook renovated the playground behind the fire department last year, I was initially pleased. It was nice to see the new equipment and improved aesthetics. My enthusiasm faded when I saw how children interact with the new ground cover—namely the surprisingly sharp gravel and black plastic edging separating the gravel from the woodchips.
On numerous occasions I have seen my children and others trip over the plastic edging when running from playscape to playscape. When they have fallen onto the gravel, it has usually resulted in scraped hands and knees. The gravel is especially hazardous when it’s sitting on top of a solid surface in the play area. When a child falls onto one of these surfaces and there’s gravel on top, the gravel has nowhere to go other than into the child’s skin.
Since the gravel was introduced, I have seen a decrease in the number of children using the playground. I have also spoken to numerous adults at the park, and almost all of them dislike the gravel and the plastic edging. I believe the town should eliminate the gravel and the woodchips and instead install a poured in place rubber floor. This material is the industry standard for new playground construction, as it is maintenance-free and provides superior injury prevention. It also makes the playground accessible to those with special needs, which it currently is not.
While we’re at it, how about taking advantage of the location and remake the playground into the theme of a fire department? How wonderful would it be to have a play fire station and fire truck for the children to play on? I have seen images online of firefighter-themed playgrounds and they look amazing. Kids love the fire department. Why not Westbrook?
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