Saturday, January 23, 2016

Upper West Side Inclusive Recreation

Currently the NYC Parks Dept in conjunction with the Upper West Side  Inclusive Playground Taskforce  is developing a prototype Inclusive Playground at the Bloomingdales Playground on W 104th Street. The Parks department is designing this as a unstaffed fixed equipment playground.

 Planned Bloomingdales Inclusive playground(green pin)  and surrounding neighborhood

Here's a list of  22 special needs.  Given limits on space/budget at Bloomingdales  , I suspect the parks department  will not be installing  a great variety of recreation objects for each special need.

Bloomingdale Library

 It would be great if this playground could  also had  a staffed portable recreation equipment parkhouse that would be able to offer a far greater variety of special; needs recreation equipment.
But I was told  they have no staff funding so are not planning to do so.. However four blocks  south of Bloomingdale Playground(west 104th St) is the Bloomingdale library  ( West 100th St...)

Bloomingdale Library (red), Bloomingdale Playground (green)

By offering the loan of special needs recreation equipment, this library  could play the role of special needs portable equipment parkhouse for the new Bloomingddale inclusive park.

But further that that it could also  play the role of special needs equipment and/or locker key  lending facility  for  additional  public spaces in the neighborhood.

Public Spaces Surrounding Bloomingdale Library(red pin)

 Public Spaces

-Fredrick Douglas Playground (W 100th St/Amsterdam) 279 feet
-Happy Warrior Playground (W 98th St, Amsterdam) 465 feet
-Frederick Douglas Houses (NYCHA) (W 100th St, Columbus) (brown) 500 feet
-Central Park (W 100th st , CPW)/ .278 mile
-Bloomingdale Playground (W 104th St/Amsterdam)  ,288 mile
 - Lotus Community Garden (POPS) (97th. Broadway) (yellow)  .3 mile
-Riverside Park (W 100th st Riverside Drive).341 mile
-Joan of Arc School Playground (DOE) (W 94th St, Amsterdam)(blue)  .416 mile
-W 104th St Community Garden (W 104th St, Manhattan Ave) .442 mile
-La Cerla Community  Garden (W 104th , Columbus ave) .466 mile
-Bloomingdales Library(red)

 .   Bloomingdales Library key/lending/ equipment collection   would complement the Blooingdales Inclusive Playground  with a wide variety of portable equipment . Additionally this portable special needs equipment collection will  have the potential to transform many more public spaces, over a wider area into inclusive playspaces.

 The Bloomingdales Inclusive Playground is an expensive project. It will probably need $2.4 million in funding to be build. (Nov 2015 update update-actual funding of playground  is now set at 5.6 million dollars)

Cost of equipment and lockers for this idea will be a small fraction of the 5.6 million that is being allocated for the childrens playground. I suspect $100,000 would cover lockers in each park puls a wide variety of recreation equipment to store in those lockers.

Coverage Area

1/2 mile (10 minutes/blocks) is about the upper limit of a parks coverage area. If a facility is more then 10 minutes away it will be used far less often then if it is closer (actually if a facility is more then 3 minutes away it will be used far less often then if is is closer, but 10 minutes is a more accepted standard so will use that one)  That puts the Bloomingdale Inclusive Playground covering 94th Street to 114th Street. Leaving most of the upper west side without inclusive playground coverage.

I suspect at the price of building the Bloomingdales Playground , it will be awhile before additional fixed equipment inclusive playgrounds will be built on the upper west side. But here is an idea...

If the Bloomingdales Library Special Needs/Inclusive  Recreation  Collection is a success, this collection can be duplicated at the Riverside and St Agnes branch libraries I would suspect for  well under $10,000.

This would mean practical every resident of the Upper West Side will have Special Needs/Inclusive play equipment loan  facility  available the park closest to where they live.

Bloomingdale:110th St: 90th St to 110th St coverage
St Agnes:80th Street:  70th street to 90th Street coverage
Riverside:66th St:  56th St to 76th Street Coverage

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Loose Parks as Intelligent Systems

Fixed Parks: Fifty First Dates
In the movie 50 First Dates,  Lucy suffered from anterograde amnesia, she forgot what she did the previous day,she had no long term memory.  Fixed parks are like that, you can bring equipment  to use in them, but the next day  these parks  start with a clean slate and you gotta bring the equipment again.

 The Loose Park, a Park with a Memory
Unlike Lucy's brain , a functional  memory system will add new memories over time. Public Libraries act as " memory systems" for communities.  By making  "libraries" of recreation equipment  available in or near "Parks", these "parks with a memory"  will   be able to learn  the recreation needs of community members. 

The concept of involvement and participation
underlies this whole report. It seems central to the
comments of all our consultants. Rand has
summarized the point when he says, "Designed
environments which are thought out. formalized,
and complete are usually lifeless' and
unapproachable because (a) they do not invite
interaction and modification to suit immediate
human needs; (b) they are unable to grow, develop
and become extended through human use. Human
habitation merely fulfills (for better or far worse)
the designer's conception of their potential
meaning rather than leading to the discovery
of new functions and new forms of interaction."  
 New York, New York 

Lawrence Halprin and Associates 1968

  How NOT to Cheat Children  The Theory of Loose Parts, Simon Nicholson

There is a  park down the block from where I live
 It opened  in 1961, in 1996,  35 years later it was reconstructed . 18 years later in  2014 its sidewalk games were repainted..
Since 1961 it has learned something new  a total of 2 times.

 At this fixed park, learning  happens over decades.

Several blocks away from where I live  is a Branch Library.

Other then a few books in its historic collection, I suspect that there are no books at this branch that go back to 1961.This is because of -the periodic  purchase of new   equipment (books etc)
-interbranch lending, where new "equipment" is added on a daily basis.

At this Loose Park, learning occurs on a daily basis.

Intelligent playspaces s will one day be built through virtual reality and other computer means. Play libraries are a low cost way to offer intelligent playspaces today.
 Intelligent Playgrounds