Thursday, March 27, 2014

Playground Review: Pueblo Play (San Jose)


How exciting to be the first (as far as I can tell) to review a brand new playground! And even better, to have it be a playground with a back-story and community purpose as cool as this one.

Pueblo Play was conceived and built through a collaboration between KaBOOM!, a non-profit that builds new playgrounds for communities in need nationwide; the San Jose Parks Foundation; the Sharks Foundation (the charitable arm of the San Jose Sharks); Pueblo de Dios (which donated the land on which the playground is built); and -- most importantly -- the community. Neighbors from the area near Winchester and Payne in San Jose -- an area that lacked safe, accessible playgrounds for neighborhood kids -- came together to plan, design, and later even build this brand new park (which was done with volunteer labor in the course of a single day). It's pretty neat to see something like this come to fruition.


Pueblo Play opened less than two weeks ago, and I can tell that it will be a great gathering point for neighborhood kids. It's located on Payne, between Winchester Boulevard and San Tomas Expressway, in the parking lot of Pueblo de Dios (use that address if you plan to use GPS). While I wouldn't recommend making a trip from far away just to play here, if you're in the area or driving through it (as we were today), it's definitely worth stopping to check it out. Here are the details:

Pros

  • A brand spankin' new playground, with perfectly clean and totally up-to-date playground equipment.
  • A really cute, moderately sized play structure that is perfect for toddlers -- high enough to satisfy their adventurous natures, but with NO potential fall-off points. The only two openings lead to slides -- one tall twisty slide, and a lower side-by-side straight slide. Everything else is fenced in.
  • The play structure also has fun features, including a bead game, two bongo drums (which Toddler X loved), and a very cool Sharks theme (signed by Sharkie himself!).
  • Neat climbing features for older kids that toddlers will enjoy playing around with too.
  • Two swings, one "big kid" and one of the plastic harness ones.
  • Nice new wooden benches for parents.
  • Fully-fenced except for two openings which do not have gates. (More on that in the "cons" section.)
  • Parking available in the Pueblo de Dios parking lot.
  • Really cute kid-produced artwork around the perimeter, on the entry sign, and even around the trash can, wooden benches and planter boxes, and a great list of "common sense" rules for the park -- very unique and community-oriented.

Cons
  • This is truly a "neighborhood park" and is situated on private property, so it is not serviced or maintained by the city. There are no bathrooms, drinking fountains, picnic tables or other facilities you might find at city parks.
  • There are no play areas beyond the playground itself -- no surrounding lawns, hills or paths for running. 
  • In something that truly doesn't make sense to me, the playground area is fully-fenced...except for the two entrances, which are wide open holes in the fence, with no gates at all (and one of them opens onto a relatively busy street). I'm thinking perhaps it is for accessibility (there is a wheelchair ramp into the playground area), but it seems like an easy-to-open gate, but one that would at least prevent toddler escapes, could have been added.
  • No shade, and as it is situated between a parking lot and a major street, I can imagine it getting very hot on a warm day.
  • No true baby swing (just the large plastic harness swing).
  • Ground covering is tanbark, my nemesis.
  • Tanbark playground area is surrounded (and held in place) by a plastic border that's about a foot high. Navigating the step into and out of this bordered area might be hard on very young toddlers.
Overall, it's a really neat little park, and even cooler if you know the story of how it was built. Congrats to KaBOOM! and its partners for creating a great space for kids to burn some energy and have some fun! Toddler X gives it two thumbs up.

1 comment:

  1. Great review on the playground! Yes, it was built by and is maintained by the community. The Community Partners are the San Jose Parks Foundation, Pueblo de Dios Church and the San Jose Sharks' Foundation. Led by Kaboom!, it was built in a day, but there were a few things that we didn't finish on build day (it was assembled in a day).

    Unfortunately, the gates hadn't arrived on build day, but they are there now (well, we still need to install them).

    This micro-playground is intended as a neighborhood meeting place, so, as pointed out, it doesn't have all the accouterments of a city park.

    Although the basic playground is constructed, there are more things that can be done, including things like shade, bulletin board, etc. It is going to take a community effort to continue making it even better.

    Learn more at http://www.puebloplay.com

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