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The Power of a Playground - Los Angeles Downtown News - For Everything Downtown L.A.!: Opinion

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Editorials The Power of a Playground

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Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 5:00 am | Updated: 5:30 pm, Wed Aug 6, 2014.

spring street parkDOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - The team at Grand Park has been knocking it out of the proverbial park ever since the 12-acre attraction opened two summers ago. A free programming schedule, a fantastic splash fountain and the design itself finally made the previously underwhelming space between the Music Center and City Hall what it should be: a true community gathering point.

Now, the park team and Los Angeles County look to have another big hit: A coming children’s playground, complete with a fun forest concept highlighted by a tree house and a long slide.

Los Angeles Downtown News last week reported on the $1 million playground that will rise on the portion of the landmark between Broadway and Spring Street. A groundbreaking was held on Wednesday, July 30, and completion is slated for November. That seems a pretty speedy timeline, but even if it takes a few more months it will be worth the wait.

The playground will be another step in making Downtown Los Angeles a viable place for families. In the last several years, the residential resurgence has led to a noticeable increase in strollers, and parents have a lot of requirements that the young hipsters, empty nesters and busy professionals living here don’t care about. Chief among the concerns is education. Fortunately, last fall Downtown got a key addition with the opening of the Metro Charter Elementary School. Hopefully more quality elementary schools, whether of the charter or public variety, will follow.

Almost as important for families is a place where kids can run around, be loud and get some exercise. There are currently precious few of these opportunities in Downtown. The Spring Street Park’s play area is small and geared toward the pre-school set. While the playground equipment on the FIDM campus in South Park is frequently utilized, it alone is not enough. There seem to be more dog parks in Downtown than kids’ parks.

The Grand Park playground will be pitched to kids up to 12, with a forest theme and plenty of places where children can climb, hide and run. Fortunately, there will also be benches and something that many playgrounds shockingly lack — shade trees for the parents who sit watching and talking.

The playground has value because not only is it a place to play, it sends a message to families that an evolving Downtown can satisfy their needs. If good playgrounds aren’t available in here, then parents will drive to Silver Lake, Pasadena or another community to find one. Force them to drive for too many things (not just playgrounds) and they’ll question whether the Central City is the right place to stay long term.

We congratulate Supervisor Gloria Molina and the nonprofit First 5 L.A., which found the funds for the park, and the park operational team for urging this forward. We’re also pleased with the early designs by Rios Clementi Hale Studios. 

We’re already looking forward to the results, and as with our desire for more elementary schools, we hope this is the first in a line of coming playgrounds. The more people Downtown can serve, the brighter its future.

© Los Angeles Downtown News 2014

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