Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Playground Reviews: Southern Community Park; Piney Wood Park

Southern Community Park - US 15/501, Chapel Hill, NC
Visited: Sunday, February 2, 2014
| Google Satellite

Summary: I haven't done a single playground review in Orange County yet, so on Sunday we went to Southern Community Park in Chapel Hill. Wake County has excellent playgrounds - my top 5 playgrounds to date are all in Wake County - but what about Orange County?

(Note: The scoring system is designed so that 50% is an average score. "Perfect" scores are rarely given.)

Things for Marla to do: 7/14. The usual age 2-5 and age 5-12 playsets, with a few slides and whatnot, plus swings and a couple other things. Pretty standard. There's also a small hill inside the play area, which I thought was a nice touch - plus, Marla enjoyed running up and over it. You don't always have to provide fancy equipment for the kids to enjoy themselves. (Apologies for the inadequate lighting in the pictures. It was pretty late in the day.)

I might have given an 8/14, except that most of the "climbing" stuff, Marla couldn't do on her own, even in the age 2-5 play area. So, perhaps this isn't the most toddler-friendly playground, now that I think about it.

Uniqueness: 4/10. A playground that has the "standard stuff" but doesn't seem completely generic will usually be given a score of 3 or 4.

Upkeep: 7/10. The equipment was in good shape; trash level was average.

Crowd: 5/10. Pretty average crowd for what you would expect on a nice Sunday afternoon. (Sensing a theme here? Hooray average!)

Marla enjoyment: 4/5. As Marla gets older and she's better able to entertain herself, these "enjoyment" scores are starting to creep up. Although...I wasn't so sure for a while, because she really didn't want to get out of that swing. I don't care how fun the swings are - and the ones here were, of course, average - if that's the only thing at the playground that Marla is interested in, I don't think I can give a score higher than 3/5. But, she did voluntarily get off of the swing eventually. (Disclaimer: I do have a bit of anti-swing bias, because Marla swinging requires continual effort out of us, her parents. I'm happy to oblige, of course...for a little while.)

TOTAL: 27/49, ranking 10th out of 24. Our first Chapel Hill playground experience suggests that their parks are well maintained, but compared to the high standard set by Wake County, the playgrounds themselves - while adequate - are nothing special or memorable. Is there such a playground in Chapel Hill or Carrboro? We'll have to do some research.


Piney Wood Park - Woodcroft Parkway, Durham, NC
Visited: Monday, February 17, 2014
| Google Satellite

Summary: Another playground close to home (less than 10 minutes away). Worth a shot!

Things for Marla to do: 6/14. So, it turns out that both of these playgrounds that I'm reviewing today are pretty standard. Swings, a small kid play area, and a large kid play area. This playground is a bit smaller than Southern Community (hence the score of 6 instead of 7).

Uniqueness: 3/10. Slightly less interesting than the average playground, but as long as there are some things (usually climbing-type things) that I don't exactly see at most other playgrounds (usually contraptions you can climb), I'll usually give at least a 3 here.

Upkeep: 7/10. Trash level was above average; equipment was in decent shape.

Crowd: 7/10. Tough call because of the weather: upper 30s, and still some snow on the ground, although it didn't really affect Marla's ability to enjoy the playground. One other family was there when we got there, but soon left; another one showed up as we were leaving; and that's it. I suspect this playground gets a little more use in nicer weather, so, 7/10 sounds good.

Marla enjoyment: 3/5. Marla had a blast playing with one of the other kids who was there (who was born within 5 days of her, it turns out), but once her friend left, Marla lost interest pretty quickly and started exploring the rest of the park. Normally that would mean a 2/5, but then a while later...she came back to the playground! For a little bit.

TOTAL: 26/49, ranking 15th out of 24. I think it's safe to say that any playground that scores in the 26-28 range is pretty much "average", "standard", "typical", or whatever. Both of these playgrounds are right in that range.

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