Monday, August 19, 2013

Playground Review: Parma Park/Jake's Play Lot (Almaden)


Pros
  • The toddler area (called Jake's Play Lot) within the larger Parma Park is fully fenced, BUT the fence doesn't lock and can be pushed open from the inside -- something Toddler X discovered quickly.
  • The toddler area has a fun, medium height play structure, two neat train features to climb on, a teeter totter of sorts, three baby swings and one of those big plastic swings, and an arbor to provide some shade. There is also a waterfall feature with a spigot, but it just gave a drip, so not much fun.
  • Toddler play area is well-designed, with cute features like kid-sized picnic tables and a kid-sized trash can. The swings are separated from the main play area, so less chance of run-ins. The overall theme -- a quicksilver mine, in reference to the one located nearby -- is a nice touch.
  • Toddler area play surface is primarily clean sand (there is a built-in sand digger) and partially the squishy stuff I like so much. There is really nice landscaping and a cute little path. Clearly a lot of thought went into the design.
  • Outside the toddler area is the main water feature, with five or six perimeter holes spouting water high into the air. It looks like there are center holes too, to provide more of a shower effect, but those weren't operational during our visit. Ground surface is the squishy stuff, with cute artwork of kids' handprints around the perimeter.
  • Nice play structure and rock climbing wall for older kids.
  • Located next to the Almaden Community Center and Library (library is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays).
  • Convenient street parking on two sides, though I HIGHLY recommend parking on the lightly trafficked Little Falls side, rather than on Camden - much easier to load and unload a toddler safely.
  • Bathrooms available, and park as a whole is clean and well-maintained.
Cons
  • Despite the arbors and a few trees, there is VERY little shade near the play structure and swings. Definitely a negative on a hot day.
  • The sand level in the toddler area seemed really low, leaving a sharp drop from the squishy surface into the sand, a playhouse feature that was too high above ground level for a toddler to use, and a set of stairs descending into thin air. It reminded me of a pier on dry ground when the lake level has gone way down. Seems like something they could easily fix.
  • The waterfall feature on the toddler side only produced a drip, leading to small pools of murky water.
  • The toddler area gate doesn't lock and can be pushed open from the inside.
Overall, I give Jake's Playlot a high rating for toddler-friendliness. I liked the fenced area (even with the useless, non-locking gate), the cute mine-themed playground, the multitude of baby swings and the available water feature. Though there are some negatives, I feel comfortable recommending this to my toddler friends on days when it's not so darn hot!

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