Please take me to the Playground

Apr 20, 2009 by Lisa Newton


As of 2002, two-thirds of children, 18 and under, who live in Los Angeles do not live within walking distance (which is defined as ¼ mile) of a public park, according to the study, No Place to Play, by the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit conservation organization.

"From a public health perspective, the benefits of parks are clear," added Dr. Linda Rosenstock, Dean of the UCLA School of Public Health. "Children who live near parks are more likely to exercise, and kids who exercise are less likely to develop a wide range of preventable diseases. More parks help create healthier kids and a healthier community." Source: California, Report Highlights LA Park Needs (CA)

Prop 40, a Bond Issuance which passed in 2002, was enacted to build new parks, and to enhance our current park system through improvements, rehabilitation and services.

Proposition 40 raised $1.3 billion for state and local parks and historical/cultural resources, including $70 million for the City of Los Angeles, of which, $5 million is allocated for the Hansen Dam and Sepulveda Basin recreation areas in the San Fernando Valley, with the remaining funds to be distributed for parks throughout the city on a per-capita basis.

One particular beneficiary of the government’s funding is a park close to my home:

Stoner Recreation Center

I have passed by this park many times, and had seen the recent construction. However, until today, I hadn’t seen the new playground. And what a playground it is:

Stoner Recreation Center Playground

Put in the category of “Universal Access Playground,” Stoner Recreation Center ’s playground was designed with all children in mind.

I wish I had a local park like this when my kids were toddlers:

Great access

With nice wide elevated walkways and extremely stable railings, children of all ages, and physical challenges, can access the recreation areas and equipment. There’s even a wheelchair ramp at the other end of the playground.

What a great shovel

Access to this cool digging shovel was from the sidewalk, so even the youngest toddlers can play and fill their truck with sand.

I'm filling up my truck

This little boy spent a long time first digging up the sand with the shovel on the left, raising it up the pole, dumping it on the surface, and then watched his truck being filled via the sand slide.


These three children were enjoying the shade while digging in the sand.

I love a good slide

If you have children, it’s easy to picture them enjoying every minute of their time sliding down the slide or jumping on this sea horse.

Sand and sidewalk aren’t the only types of surfaces that surround the playground—they also use a soft, cushiony material designed to keep bumps and bruises to a minimum.

I was surprised—and very happy–to see the improvements at the Stoner Recreation Center; but even before, it was pretty good.

More on that in an upcoming blog post…………………..:)

I had a great time watching the kids, talking to a few of them and their parents; and enjoying a day at the park.

Will you be heading to the park with your kids? Or maybe your kids are grown like mine, and you just enjoy the park without the worries of watching your kids. Maybe you don’t have any but dig the outdoors.

Either way, Travelin’ Local continues to amaze and surprise me.

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Family, Recreation, SoCal, West LA

14 Responses to “Please take me to the Playground”

  1. Kevin says:

    New playgrounds in the cities is a very good sign in today’s world. What we have seen in the Pacific Northwest’s larger cities is playground and park use dropping off as parents become more and more concerned about their children’s safety. It’s sad to drive by these areas and see no kids.

    Fortunately supervised play is beginning to happen and this trend seems to be reversing again. In today’s text messaging and computer world I think getting outside is more important than ever before.

    Good for Los Angeles.

    Kevin’s last blog post..Cowichan River Flowers


  2. D. Travis North says:

    They’re trying to raise funds for a similar project in my town. I have of course donated to the cause – not only because I have kids, but because places like this help the community.

    Just to expand on Kevin’s observations, I think a lot of the US’s mentality on security and space is based on misconception. People through the 60-90s moved out to suburbs for two reasons: safety and space. But in doing so, they created security and space concerns of their own. Not knowing ones neighbor is bad for security. You have no interest in their lives and they have no interest in yours – so you can’t depend on each other. It makes suburbanites easy prey to criminals and vandals. Ironically, tight-knit inner-city communities often have better crime rates than their suburban counter-parts. Everyone watches out for each other because they are personally invested. Why?

    Because of public parks like this one. Kids play with other kids, and parents meet one another. You spend time watching your kid, you learn a lot about another parent watching their kids. And while you may live several blocks from each other, you now have a personal connection beyond “my son’s friend’s mom”. The space isn’t private, but what good is space if you’re the only one in it? Public space in a community is essential for the community to survive.

    D. Travis North’s last blog post..Waiting For Perfection


  3. Diane C. says:

    There weren’t any parks within walking distance of where I raised my kids in the valley. I drove to various parks where we spent a lot of time. The area outside of Tucson where I live now, doesn’t have parks (besides Sabino Canyon) but the school grounds are left open so after hours, weekends and summer, the community can use the tracks and playgrounds.

    Diane C.’s last blog post..Cactus Monday – DeGrazia


  4. Lisa's Chaos says:

    I think we need seahorse toys! We have trains and such here. Boring. But that’s a great playground! I hadn’t really thought about the benefits of a park, except for fun and entertainment.

    Lisa’s Chaos’s last blog post..Here Kitty Kitty Kitty


  5. Lara says:

    That’s an awesome playground! I wish there’d been things like that when I was a kid… heck I wish there were more around here for my kids!

    Lara’s last blog post..I love national cooking holidays.


  6. Patricia says:

    I love going to the park – I walk the lake park by my home every morning. My children did not have a play park we did walk to the school but it was across a busy street. Now there is a lovely park with woods just a few blocks away. Some folks were very smart to insist that all parts of the city need to have a place to play (and not just soccer and baseball fields)

    Nice post and once again great pictures

    Patricia’s last blog post..A Different Journey


  7. LisaNewton says:

    @ Kevin I totally agree with the idea of getting the kids outside, but I’m not so sure about the safety issue. Of course, younger children need to be supervised, but as children get older, they can go to the park with their friends. As to the age when this is appropiate, that’s up to the parents.

    @ D. Travis North You are so right. When I was there, a group of parents were all talking to each other. Oh, I don’t know if they knew each other just from the playground or if they were neighbors, but none the less, they talked, watched the kids, and just seeing it all made me feel great, plus, I’m sure the kids felt good, too.

    When my kids were growing up, we lived in the suburbs, and I took them to the park, but we didn’t know anyone there. My girls played with each other and if there’re were other kids, they usually played with them, too. But, that since of community was missing. I know some of the suburban subdivisions are trying to bring this idea of community back into the fold. I hope they succeed.

    @ Diane C. It’s great when the schools are able to leave their grounds open after school and weekends. I know that sometimes security is an issue, but if a community is able to appreciate the grounds, keep them clean, and use them properly, it’s a win/win situation. The kids get some fresh air and sunshine, and the grounds get to be used instead of just sitting there wasting away.

    @ Lisa’s Chaos I’ll admit a park is fun, but it can be so much more. Learning, exercise, team work, and so many social skills you can’t even count them. I love playgrounds. Watching kids interact is a great way to see their personalities. Plus, I love the seahorse toys, too………………..:)

    @ Lara When I was 10, I lived across the street from a big park. We didn’t have a playground like this one, but we did have a football field. Being the tomboy I was, and only having male neighbors, I used to play. One day, when I was in the 6th grade, I was playing football, I went back for an interception, got sandwiched between two of the larger boys, and ended up unconcious on the ground. The kids ran across the street to get my father, who rushed me to the hospital, where I spent the next 3 days with a brain concussion. After that, my father said no more football……………..:)

    @ Patricia Thank you. It’s great when a park moves into your neighborhood. Do you kids meet friend there to play, too?


  8. Davina says:

    Hi Lisa. I don’t have children, but I could see myself visiting this one just to sit and watch them play. What an amazing place!

    Davina’s last blog post..Morning Muse — Flock of Thoughts


  9. David says:

    Interestingly enough, the Wall Street Journal has sustained some of what others here have pointed out–many parks and recreation areas across the nation, are seriously short of operating funds and have to either curtail their services or even shut down.

    It’s great that the bond issuance for Park Improvements is actually flowing into the actual parks rather than being sucked up into other line items.

    I think an important consideration when evaluating a city’s budget is the degree of success of their previous bond issuance’s and their results.

    Be that as it may, as a life long lover of parks–what they’re doing at Stoner Park, will assist the general public and residents for a lifetime.

    Thanks Lisa, for your story.


  10. LisaNewton says:

    @ Davina The kids and parents were fun to watch. A mini community……:)

    @ David Thank you. I often wonder where our tax dollars are going, but it’s great to see them going to work at a local park. I’m all in favor of taxes that help build a community, get kids outside exercising, and enhance life in general.


  11. D. Travis North says:

    @David I somehow wish there was an easy-to-understand way to evaluate the impact of a city’s budgeting for parks. I think that in many cases, it is difficult to politicians to convince constituents that such funding is beneficial in the long run – even if it’s a temporary raise in taxes.

    City taxes are traditionally high – especially so in the last few decades because people are moving out to the suburbs – less housing in the city is occupied means less people to pay taxes means higher taxes. Indirectly, a well represented park system helps to build communities, making it a desirable place to live. Desirable places attract residents, which means more tax base for the city. But trying to explain the long term benefits to citizens that are worried about the now is difficult.

    My hope is that projects like Stoner or Kids Kastle (Doylestown, PA) or Merry Place (Havertown, PA) become models for such programs to expand. Eventually, we will all get back to where we were 40 years ago.

    PS – Lisa…your blog seems to cross into my realm of practice a lot. At least half the time, you seem to touch on things that I’m very passionate about. Love it…keep it up.

    D. Travis North’s last blog post..Waiting For Perfection


  12. Patricia says:

    My kids are now 23-30 years so they go to the beach and park with their friends, but when little I used to arrange to meet up with their playgroup friends so they would have friends to play with and I would have parents to visit with…time flies when you are having fun :lol:
    the new neighborhood park is just fun to watch the children play in now…and we are finally having some sunshine for them to get out in to enjoy!

    Patricia’s last blog post..A Different Journey


  13. David says:

    @ Travis

    I agree that in the long run, funding, building, and investing into our nation’s urban parks and infrastructure, is a good bet. The Stimulus bill recently passed was for “shovel ready” infrastructure projects. I am not sure what amount of that, if any, is supposed to be allocated for new parks.

    Be that as it may, I can think of no finer goal then to create park improvements for our children and ourselves–as it’s a community resource that keeps on giving. I’m going to Google the projects that you mentioned in PA.

    Urban densities in our major metropolitan cities are at an all time high–so that means that people have moved, and are moving from the suburbs into the downtown’s.

    However, stagnant to weak/negative job/income growth combined with falling rents will result in higher taxes to fund State operating budgets, as New York and New Jersey have done.

    The problem with that, as in California, is that higher taxes discourage small and large business investments. That’s why the Stoner and Kids Kastle park innovations are so wonderful, especially in today’s economic climate. I hope we “get back to where we were” faster than in 40 years but your estimate might, indeed, be realistic.

    The interesting thing about Lisa’s story is that this particular bond sale, was based on the needs of its residents on a per-capita basis. I think one huge problem in trying to evaluate any tax cost/benefit ratio is 1) Lack of data 2) Quality of Data and 3) Inefficiency of the recipient/s and the 4) Waste of our taxes into top heavy bureaucracies such as school districts, etc.


  14. LisaNewton says:

    @ D. Travis North Thank you, and I enjoy your thoughtful comments, each with your unique perpective both from a photographic viewpoint and an architectural viewpoint.

    @ Patricia When the winter’s over and spring is in the air, it’s so great to get outside to enjoy the crisp breeze and sunny skies. A part of me envys the seasonal changes…………:)


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