My 3-year old son and I were very excited to visit the newly refurbished playground on the beach at Riis Park. When we arrived, I was delighted to see brand new, safe, sturdy playground equipment. There are four play structures of varying heights and difficulties to accommodate children of different ages. My son had a ball. However, there were several problems with the layout and grounds that make it a place that we may not visit again.
First, while sand around the structures may seem ideal for soft landings, it is coarse and littered with fairly large, jagged stones (4 or 5 inches). The play areas are bordered by a raised concrete curb, and are separated by asphalt. Small children running from one play structure to another could trip on the curb and fall on the ground. While close supervision is necessary in any situation, any parent would agree that it is close to impossible to stop an excited three-year old from RUNNING!
On the smallest piece of equipment there is a ramp leading up to a slide. Some sand had blown up on the smooth plastic surface. I observed several children, including my son, slip on the sand and fall while coming down the ramp.
There are picnic tables and benches off to the side, which are great, but the park lacks benches close enough to the equipment to sit down and supervise a toddler. I wanted to stay and feed my six-month old son a bottle while watching my older son play, but there was simply no place for me to sit! Just one bench placed in front of each play structure would make it much easier for a bottle-feeding caregiver or a nursing mother.
I am grateful that a considerable amount of money was spent on the beautiful playground equipment. The layout and grounds of the park were not well thought out and were certainly not planned from the perspective of a parent. Perhaps a rubberized surface between the play areas, a thorough sifting of the sand to remove stones and a couple of benches would make the park safer for children and more convenient for parents. Meanwhile, I will continue to visit the playgrounds that are further east on the boardwalk, which are safe and well maintained by the city parks department.