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Let All The Children Play
LASN November 2015 Playground

By Michael Miyamoto, LASN Editor





Let All the Children Play (LATCP) in East Meadow, N.Y., is the first fully accessible playground in Nassau County, N.Y., and one of the first of its kind in the nation. BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers of Patchogue, N.Y., designed the park and landscape plan and was the construction administrator. BBS is a leading tri-state (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut) designer of sustainable educational, commercial, institutional, public and athletic facilities. The firm designed the first LEED-certified public school in New York State, the Hampton Bays Middle School in Hampton Bays, N.Y. Hampton Bays received LEED silver certification, and a 2012 Green Ribbon School designation from the White House as one of the most environmentally responsible facilities in the nation.


The playground called Let All The Children Play at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, N.Y., certainly lives up to its name. The two-acre facility is the first fully accessible children's play site in Nassau County, and one of the first of its kind in the U.S., Peter Wilk, of Wilk Maketing Communications, said.

Nassau County's Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums developed the playground in partnership with the Let All The Children Play Foundation, a Long Island not-for-profit that is "dedicated to improving the lives and dignity of all children by developing accessible playgrounds and inclusive recreation programs," Wilk said.

BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers, of Patchogue, N.Y., designed the project and was also the landscape architect and construction administrator. Over the last decade, BBS has designed educational facilities valued at $1.6 billion. The firm's services include architecture, interior design and landscape architecture as well as civil, mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering. Funding for LATCP came from the Nassau County 2006 Environmental Bond Act, at least two grants from the state of New York, funds from both Nassau County and the LATCP Foundation, and private donations. "The new $1.25 million playground is designed to promote interaction among children both with and without disabilities," Roger Smith, principal of BBS, said. "It is a place where children can discover, learn and socialize, while developing understanding and sensitivity towards each other." LATCP opened in 2012 and allows children of varying physical and mental abilities, including those in wheelchairs, to play together and share every piece of equipment at the site.




The entrance pathway leads to the centrally located, polygonal "Welcome Center," a shelter custom-designed by BBS. There is a hard surface in several areas that is made from permeable interlocking concrete pavement manufactured by Nicolock. Paver dimensions are 3-1/8" (height), 4-3/4" (width) and 9-1/2" (length). The pavers were installed in a 90-degree herringbone pattern with half-inch gaps. All gaps are ADA compliant and provide a minimum of a 15 percent surface area opening.



BBS assisted Nassau County and the LATCP Foundation with site selection, topographic survey coordination, conceptual and schematic planning, complete design, cost estimating, development of construction documents, coordination between the public and private funding parties, and development of fundraising materials and visuals.

"During the design process, we were guided by the idea of complete accessibility to all play areas and all equipment by children with even severe physical and mental disabilities," Curt Coronato, vice president of BBS, said.

"This included the physical access for children in wheelchairs, safety and ease of use by children with reduced abilities, design that allowed all children to play next to each other regardless of disability, increased sound and sensory play opportunities, and easy access to all areas by parents of children in need of assistance during play," said Coronato, RLA, ASLA, CPSI.




One of the park's more prominent features is the 51-foot-long play bridge. There are 11 concrete footings; a 3'11"-wide walking surface constructed of recycled plastic composite planks; 20-mm and 22-mm diameter polyamide (nylon) rope cables with UV protection and fire retardant solution; and 5-1/2" galvanized steel tubing finished with polyester powder coating.



Designing and building a playground within an existing park with mature trees was viewed by BBS as both a challenge and an opportunity.

"Our team developed the playground's layout in a manner that preserved the mature trees," Coronato said. "It required several creative landscaping and site engineering solutions, but the final result was a comfortable, pleasant playground with extensive shading and the feel of a connection with nature."

To protect the root systems of the trees, BBS left areas of up to 15 feet in diameter around the trunks undisturbed and provided natural irrigation by directing rainwater runoff to the trees and other landscaped areas. The designers also used porous materials as the base for the safety surfacing, allowing rainwater to permeate the ground and irrigate the trees as well.

The park exceeds ADA accessibility requirements for playgrounds, and all the equipment meets or exceeds safety and accessibility standards set by the ASTM, CPSC and ADA.




Playground equipment includes a custom-built ADA transfer station; "Ocean/Jungle," "Story Makers," "Sierra" and "Galaxy" climbing structures; "Ocean Spring" seesaws; a "Coupe Deluxe" car; "Mermaid's Fountain" water play feature; "Starfish" tables; "Spica" and "Junior Spica" spinners; "Supernova" ring spinner; a "Rock-It" rocker; "Billy Goat" play patch; "Argo" balancing tube; and "Little Elephant" and "Little Hen" rockers. Some swing seats have harnesses for children with balancing problems. The slides are gently sloped for increased safety and ease of use. The climbing structures have wheelchair ramps.



The playground has areas for children ages 5 and under and kids 5-12. BBS designed wide pathways and spaced the equipment sufficiently to allow easy wheelchair travel throughout the park. The playground has lots of benches, so parents and guardians can closely watch their children while relaxing. The park features four picnic areas. A nature exploration section, also designed by BBS, is planned. Some of the swing seats are equipped with amusement park-like harnesses for children who have balancing problems. The slides are gently sloped for increased safety and ease of use. The climbing structures are equipped with wheelchair ramps. The seesaws are especially made for children who lack balance.

Surface materials include multicolored, poured-in-place recycled rubber, artificial grass, pavers, natural grass and decorative pavers showing the names of donors. The variety of surface textures and materials increases children's sensory experiences.

"You will have to look long and hard to find a better example of a successful public-private partnership that works for the greater good of the community," said Edward Mangano, Nassau County executive. "Together, we have dedicated ourselves to breaking down barriers and improving the lives of children with disabilities."

BBS is a leading Long Island and tri-state (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut) area designer of sustainable educational, commercial, institutional, public and athletic facilities. The firm designed the first LEED-certified public school in New York State -- Hampton Bays Middle School in Hampton Bays, N.Y. -- which received LEED silver certification, as well as the 2012 Green Ribbon School designation from the White House as one of the most environmentally responsible schools in the nation. Over the last decade, BBS has designed educational facilities valued at $1.6 billion.








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