Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Play's the Thing

Arroyo Seco Park is one of South Pasadena's tucked-away treasures. It spans 19.9 acres of parkland and includes soccer fields, baseball diamonds, horse and hiking trails, picnic tables, barbecues, undeveloped wooded areas and a flood channel. It's a quiet, breezy getaway curving along the Arroyo Seco with the skate park, racquet center and wonderfully retro golf course on one end and San Pascual Stables on the other. You'll even find a tiny, underused river rock amphitheater behind one of the baseball diamonds. (Why underused, you ask? Well, although the stone stage begs for a Hamlet soliloquy, the poison oak warning signs behind it are a bit of a buzz kill...) All in all, this is a beautiful oasis ideal for taking a jog, kicking a ball or just stretching out under one of those heritage maple trees.

But seriously, what's up with the playground equipment?!

Garfield Park and Orange Grove Park have lovely, well-maintained playscapes that are not only safe for little exploring hands but challenging for little developing minds. By contrast, Arroyo Seco Park has a few tired swings, a jungle gym that makes you hope your tetanus shots are up to date and a slide that is to playground equipment what Charlie Brown's Christmas tree was to holiday decorations. Come on, South Pas! Who do I have to bug to make this playground fun for the preschoolers and worthy of the magnificent surroundings?

14 comments:

Judy Williams said...

I love the idea of the old stuff we played on as kids, and we're still alive to tell about it.

I hear ya about safety, but there's just something heartening about the old stuff. GOD I SOUND OLD!!!

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Pasadena Adjacent said...

I'm old too Judy. I like it as well. Remember the giant rocket? straight out of the space race

Laurie said...

I'm not talking about a cool retro rocket. THat would be great. I'm talking about a slide with graffiti and a rusty climber. It's such a great place to gather and I'm all for nostalgia but it's a shame more moms of very young children have no reason to go there. Also, it would be nice for little ones to have a sandbox or a playscape while big siblings have little league. Just sayin...

Anonymous said...

I agree, Laurie. I live near the park and wish the playground was better for my three year old because that slide is too battered and the jungle gym is scary! Garfield Park is not as convenient plus it is always crowded when we go to the playground there. I would like it if the Arroyo Seco park had a playground like Lacy Park in San Marino which is safe but still a bit retro.

Mike said...

I wondered about this as well. There is no park in the Altos, either, so it would seem like a good idea to put some care into this one since it serves half the community.

Anonymous said...

As president of the MOMS Club of South Pasadena, I would never have a park day at this park for my club members. The play equipment is unsafe.
I wouldn't mind if it was old, but most moms do.
As a mom, this is the only park in the city that I can walk to and I will not go. Although the shade is nice in the summer, in the winter this area where the play equipment is stays muddy long after the rains.
I don't know why this playground is so neglected.

Laurie said...

I here ya! Little Bit and I checked out the park when we first moved here. She was only 2 then and I quickly hustled her back to the car. At 5 she is stll too little to be set loose with that jungle gym. The thing about old equipment is that when we were kids it wasn't old.

I would love to figure out how to bring this park back to the kids of South Pas. And their moms, myself included.

dbdubya said...

You should all contact Sheila Pautsch, the Community Services Director. She oversees the parks, along with a lot of other things. You can also contact the Parks and Recreation Commission, who establishes priorities for the parks. It's a budget issue more than anything, but your voices should be heard. Sheila has been with the City for about 18 months and is very committed to parks.

Laurie said...

DB, I was going to email you about this. Thanks for the info! I knew I wasn't the only one who felt this way.

TheChieftess said...

Judy...I'm right there with you...I remember the old, rusty jungle gym in the park where I grew up and the wading pool, and the slides, and the swings...now all the park play things are ugly plastic junk that looks like it will crack and break soon...how about just refurbishing the jungle gym???

Laurie said...

The new playscapes have soft, woodchip bases that cushion falls and provide drainage. The old stuff may look fun and Wonder Years-ish but I defy any mom to feel good about letting their toddlers loose on them. Even in their era, jungle gyms like that were hazardous. Jon broke his arm on one when he was a kid!

I disagree about the modern playscape stuff being ugly. Most of it is wood and vinyl with colors that don't fade (and no paint to flake off) and slides that don't burn legs in the hot sun like the old metal stuff. Brookside Park's equipment is great. So is Lacy Park, which also has some cute retro-ish bouncy horses.

For a great example of a park that has both old and new, Victor Lago (I think I'm remembering that name) in Alhambra is incredible. Pasadena Adjacent turned us on to it. Old, 60s era sea monster climbers and slides with new playscapes and swings. The LA preservationists have kept the beauty and nostalgia of the old stuff, the new stuff keeps moms happy and there is even a 60s rocket ship climber for exploration that is well maintained and free of rust or jagged edges.

Barbara said...

When my sons were younger, there was some seriously intense playground equipment at this park in addition to the scary jungle gym. There was a slide that stood about nine feet tall. I couldn't even touch the top while standing on the ground. There was one of those metal merry-go-rounds, that spun very fast, and sometimes sent kids flying if they didn't hold on. And there was a climbing/swinging structure that was like a horizontal ladder, elevated pretty far off the ground. I have to confess I have a little bit of nostalgia for that kind of playground equipment, but I guess I understand why it's wrong.

dbdubya said...

Verdugo Park in Glendale, where I grew up, had the same kind of playground equipment, Barbara. It was great. My dad pushed by brother so hard on the swing that he did a complete 360. I remember sitting in the swing seats that were held with a chain and twisting around and around so that when you let go, you'd spin like a top. The only problem was that you'd catch your fingers in the links of the chain.

Amazing we survived - no seat belts, no car seats, laying on the rear deck behind the back seat and rolling onto the seat when the car was braked. You'd get arrested today for the stuff our parents allowed us to do.