This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Playgrounds in the parks

In early January I was in Indianapolis with family, and some of the adults wanted to take the grandchildren to a playground. The nearest playground was over a mile away and they had to drive. I realized then that Rensselaer had a good system of playgrounds. There are three city parks that have decent playgrounds, and there are also three elementary schools that have playgrounds that are open to the public.

Columbia Park, the only park on the east side of Rensselaer, occupies a full city block. Most of the park is taken up by a softball field, but along the south edge of the park there are a number of slides and swings. There is enough variety to keep most kids occupied for a half hour, which is what a playground should do. The view below is looking south along the west edge of the park.
We are looking west along the south side of the park in the view below.
Iroquois Park is one of our flood-plain parks (Bicentenniel Park, Austin Park, and maybe Laird's Landing being the others). It is not very conveniently located because the only access is via College Avenue. The first year we were in Rensselaer, the park abutted our back yard, but because of the fence, it was a three block walk to get to the playground. Several structures for the city water system break up the park, and the tail of land that is behind the park headquarters is isolated from the rest of the park. The playground may be the best part of this park.
Almost all of the equipment that is there now is relatively new. There used to be a really tall slide that looked rather dangerous.Brookside Park has the largest collection of playground equipment spread over the largest area. The night shot of the slides is not all that revealing, but I liked it so that is what you get.
The wing is one of the oldest pieces of playground equipment in any of the Rensselaer parks. I have never quite understood what kids were supposed to do on it.
East of the basketball court there is additional playground equipment that is intended for small children. The little house was added this past summer. It only slowly went up as people occasionally worked on it.
In addition to these three park playgrounds, Rensselaer has three playgrounds attached to schools that give most residents a playground within walking distance. I will write about them in the future.

(This afternoon and tonight the Park Board is hosting sessions to get input on changes to make in the parks. I think the thing we need most is a sledding hill. What do you think?)

I attended the park planning meeting Thursday night, and there were not many people there so anyone who had an opinion was able to express it. I did learn a few things. The delay in installing the bridge to connect Weston Cemetery and Bicentennial Park is due to the heavy work load at Talbert. That is very surprising. Manufacturing overall is not doing well. Maybe Talbert has a government contract. Also, Bicentennial Park sits on an old garbage dump, which limits building there. I am not the only one who would like to see a sledding hill in the park system. Finally, there have actually been weddings at the gazebo in Hal Gray Park, which I thought was an absurd idea in a previous post. I apologize to anyone I offended.


Sarah said...

There was a wing in the nearby park where I grew up, and I remember clambering all over it with a bunch of other kids. Except on those hottest summer days when you would get burned if you touched it. Just like the old slides that are getting harder to find. Ah yes, those were the days...

flatbow said...

I remember the tall slide at Iroquois Park, it was the tallest slide in Rensselaer. Combine its majestic height with very low sides and steep ladder and you get one of the most dangerous slides possible! It was great! You were up in the branches of those big oak trees. I also liked the "tug boat" at that park. Perhaps the playground equipment that stands out the most in my memory was what we called "the Ship" at Brookside Park. It had chain ladders, stairs, poles, and up-from-underneath ship-like ladders. Once on the Ship, there was a central portion with a steering wheel and a metal rod which you could use to clank against the steering column to simulate a ship's bell. Behind the central portion was a small platform with two swivel "guns" mounted on the railing. Off the central part were stairs that lead up to an enclosed room which had a tall slide (second tallest in Rensselaer). The other side of the equipment had a tunnel which led to a covered slide. Off the back of that slide was a set of monkey bars.

I have loads of park memories (mostly good) but I suppose I won't bore you with them!

30-year refugee said...

brookside park was where i spent most of my time when i wasn't in the st. augustine's playground, where i remember playing kickball, dodge ball and 4-square more than i remember playground equipment. (and there was a field across the street, including a baseball or softball diamond.

i remember the tall curly slide at brookside, taller than any you see today. the park also had one of those wheels you spin around and hang onto bars atop it. kids would get it spinning fast, you'd get dizzy and it was probably rather easy to fall off it.

i have vague memories of the pirate ship flatbow spoke of. i remember the slides on each side and the steering wheel. the other details have been forgotten i swear kids use to climb on top of the "roof" of the enclosed room....highly dangerous of course.

i know there was a ball diamond at brookside and a pump for drinking water.

i swam in the pool occasionally, and remember there was a kiddie pool as well as the regular pool, which had a diving board. i only recall one board. i know there was a running track, and probably a football field within it, across a parking area near the pool.

and i remember the brook that ran alongside the park. near the pool, there was a tube that funneled the brook under the road into the parking lot. we use to walk through the tube because kids find silly things like that to be fascinating.

and i definitely remember the wing. you pulled yourself up to the top from the low end, i guess, and slid down like a slide from the high end. given that shorts were truly shorts in the 70s, it probably meant your skin made a nasty sound as you slid down it. i was never very good and navigating up and down that thing, as i recall.

i'd recognize almost nothing in the park these days, and i'd be surprised at how small it seems compared to my youth, i'm sure.

30-year refugee said...

so i remembered something about the St. A's playground. i think the swings had hard wood seats instead of those soft vinyl ones that hug your butt. i seem to recall that we would stand on the swings at St. A's and fly back and forth....i'm sure more than one kid fell off the swings over the years, and i can't recall if it was on pavement or grass. i'm sure they're long gone.

i don't remember swings at brookside, but i'm sure they had them.

i also remember there was a small barn-like building near the pool, which served as a concession stand for both the pool on summer afternoons and ball games in the evening, i'm sure. i vaguely remember it as a concession stand, however, as it was turned into simply a covered facility for a vending machine or two by the time i was old enough to go to the pool by myself.

Sheila said...

To 30-year refugee: "i swear kids use to climb on top of the "roof" of the enclosed room....highly dangerous of course."

Yep! I used to climb on top of the roof.

To do it, you had to crawl out where the slide was and climb on the hand rails on either side of the slide to reach the bars on the skylight in the roof. Once you grabbed hold of the bars, you pulled yourself up.

I often think of those times (I now live right next to the park)...crazy! I saw my older sister do it. Then one day I decided to try. Absolutely insane!

Thanks to all for the wonderful memories!