March 24

McDonald School kids will spin, climb



There was a time, a generation or two ago, when building a playground meant putting a couple of slides, a few swings, and maybe some monkey bars on schoolyard. Oh, how things have changed.

The new equipment will be in the yellow area.
Site graphic provided by David Hanson of Twist Architecture.

A group of 15 parents and children met last night at the Green Lake Elementary School library to decide what types of playground equipment they’d like to see in the McDonald School playground. From a stack of catalogs 8 inches high, the Friends of McDonald group pulled samples of various equipment types: spinning things, bouncy things, rocking things, climbing structures, and so on.

Gretchen DeDecker from Seattle Public Schools was on hand to offer her guidance and expertise (e.g., which structures are popular at other schools; which structures were best for social interaction; and that spinning and rocking motions are supposed to be good for brain development).

This is phase two of a playground upgrade that has been a community project for three years, long before the Seattle Public Schools announced its decision to reopen the school in Fall 2009.

The Friends of McDonald has raised $37,000 through grants and neighbors for this phase of the playground upgrade. At a January 27 meeting, the Friends of McDonald met with the community to decide how best to use the money; possibilities included renovating fence, doing seating, and playground equipment. The group decided unanimously to put it in playground equipment. The funds will also cover the cost of preparing the space for the equipment (asphalt removal, a concrete border).

The group preferred spinning equipment and netted climbing structures. (Click pictures to see more detail.)

Kathleen Ellsbury, coordinator for phase two of the project, presented the equipment options and went over the next step in the process: DeDecker will issue requests for proposals to seven vendors. They’ll submit proposals to Friends of McDonald who will choose the top two or three options for public input, a date that was originally set for April 27 but will be delayed until May or June.

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