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Lake Charles, Apres le Deluge

The damage from the 2005 hurricanes in Lake Charles, La. prompted the city to renovate playgrounds in seven parks and include shade structures that, according to the manufacturer, have a "sturdy hurricane-rated metal frame" and fasteners that makes it easy to remove and re-attach the canopies in case of high winds or hurricanes.

It was a couple of tough months for Lake Charles, Louisiana back in 2005--Hurricane Katrina in August, followed by Hurricane Rita in September. Situated between Houston and New Orleans, Lake Charles is home to the sandy beaches of the Calcasieu River and just 30 miles upstream from the Gulf of Mexico. Lake Charles is connected to the gulf by a deep-water shipping channel, which gave the 2005 hurricanes direct access to the city.

Lake Charles received $10.9 million in recovery aid from FEMA. This money was used to rebuild fire and police stations, the Lake Charles Civic Center and such public amenities as park and rec facilities.

From August 2008 to the end of July, the city of Lake Charles completed over $3 million in park and rec improvements, including $1.9 million in bond funds for the "7 Park Improvement" program.
Images: Shade Systems, Inc.

Shade, Blessed Shade

This part of the country tends to be hot and "sticky," so when considering rebuilding park and recreation facilities, shade becomes a priority. Shade structures of course provide protection from the damaging effects of 99 percent of the harmful ultraviolent rays and their related skin cancers. It is estimated that one in five people in the U.S. will develop skin cancer. Under the shade structures, children experience temperatures 15-20 degrees lower that uncovered areas.

The city heavily invested in playground infrastructure and in shade protection for seven-parks: Wiley McMillan Community Center & Park; Martin Luther King Jr. Park; PFC Wilfred Bellard Memorial Park; Lock Park; Lagrange Soccer Field; W.H. Buddy Prejean Memorial Park; and University Park.

There are many different types of shade structures for park and playground use, however, a primary consideration was structures that could hold up under the winds and storms the city experiences
every year.

Pat Moore of Moore Planning Group led the vendor selection for the city.

Aesthetics, durability, warranty and the ease of removing and re-attaching the shade structures were all considerations. The city chose a custom "sail" system manufactured by Shade Systems, Inc. of Ocala, Fla. The structures are supported by stainless steel connections and hardware.

Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach and his staff expressed satisfaction with the shade structures that will allow children to get in more playtime during midday hours.

Benefits of Synthetic Grass for Playgrounds

by Donna Kent, marketing director, ForeverLawn, Inc., excerpted

According to the author, artificial grass installed over a proper base can provide an ASTM safety rating for fall heights up to 12 feet. A synthetic grass playground surface certified by the International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association provides independent verification that the product has met a rigorous set of industry standards.
Image: ForeverLawn, Inc.

If an ASTM 1292 (Impact Attenuation of Surface Systems) certified safety surface is required, natural grass is not an option. That's where synthetic grass comes in. Synthetic grass offers an impressive list of benefits that make it an ideal playground surface.

More and more municipalities, schools, and youth facilities are installing artificial turf as the preferred safety surfacing option. Artificial turf is considered a revolutionary surfacing product in the playground industry because of the many advantages it offers.


Artificial grass installed over a proper base can provide an ASTM safety rating for fall heights up to 12 feet. A properly certified turf should also have a soft, consistent surface that is ADA accessible for easy wheelchair access. Since the grass won't displace like loose fill such as sand, rubber chips, or wood chips, the safety rating is easy to maintain at all times, even under play equipment. A synthetic grass playground surface that is certified by IPEMA provides independent verification that the product has met a rigorous set of industry standards.


Kids stay cleaner when they play on a synthetic grass surface. There's no sand or other loose fill to get in the kids' clothes, hair, eyes or mouth. Some synthetic grass products are designed with built-in antimicrobial agents to help protect against bacteria and other microbes.

Increased Longevity, Decreased Maintenance

Synthetic grass for playgrounds lasts longer and usually costs less than pour-in-place surfaces. While pour-in-place generally needs repairs after about five years, the functional longevity of artificial grass is closer to eight years or more. Synthetic grass systems designed specifically for playgrounds can offer a warranty of up to eight years, with little noticeable fading even in extreme temperatures. Repairs on pour-in-place surfaces are often costly and unattractive. With synthetic grass, repairs are much less frequent, and when they are done they are virtually unnoticeable.

Attractive Appearance

The advanced synthetic grass on the market today provides an extremely natural appearance. Those who have seen the latest products are often surprised at how real it looks. To make artificial turf even more appealing, some grass companies offer life-like features such as varied blade heights, shorter, textured blades at the base of the grass, and multiple colors to simulate real grass. More innovative artificial turf manufacturers make grass with a tan thatch that replicates natural grass even more than the all-green products.

Green and Environmentally Friendly

The benefits of synthetic grass go beyond the functionality and beauty of the surface. “Going green” has become an important focus in many industries, and some synthetic turf companies are offering environmentally-friendly products to address these needs. For example, the backing of certain products is actually made of recycled plastic bottles, which helps to reduce landfill waste. By using recycled and sustainable components, some synthetic grass products are up to 35 percent green by weight. Because of these eco-friendly features, utilizing the more innovative synthetic grass products can help a landscape architect earn LEED credits.

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December 7, 2019, 4:44 am PDT

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