October 31, 2014

TCC Playground Committee Announces Plans; Build Week Set for August

 

PHOTO BY FLAVIA POTENZA

TCC Playground Committee Announces Plans; Build Week Set for August

Adults, clockwise from top, Gabrielle Lamirand, Kelly Rockwell, Nonie Shore, Mary Arden, Catherine McLaughlin. The playground committee has worked with Play by Design to create new play equipment to be built at the Topanga Community House.

After months of revisions, the plans for the new Topanga Community Club (TCC) playground have been unveiled. The new structures have elements reminiscent of classic playgrounds, including a wooden treehouse and castle. The design was created with input from children at Topanga Elementary last September. Since then, a parent committee has formed under the acronym TOP, Topanga’s Only Playground. The group is raising funds and awareness for this project and is operating under the Topanga Community Club’s 501(c)3.

The new playground will serve children of all ages, featuring picnic tables and benches, a parents’ area and a community bulletin board. The equipment chosen for each part of the playground is developmentally challenging, yet age-appropriate and safe. By creating a whimsical playground that inspires the imagination, the design also fosters the spirit of Topanga that is so very important to us all.

The children at Topanga Elementary helped to create the design by submitting sketches and talking to the playground architect with the firm Play By Design. They excitedly suggested a number of elements that are in the final design, including a zip line and a shaded homework area. They provided wonderful drawings and creative ideas for the space. Some of the suggestions made by the students that ultimately didn’t make the cut were a water slide, a snack bar and a movie theater. Can’t blame them for trying!

New and exciting elements that help to develop both fine and gross motor skills and sensory activities are also part of the playground. It is physically quite different from the existing structure and combines many unique new details, including a climbing wall, rope ladder, monkey bars, a giant treehouse and no fewer than four slides. The popular swings will be enhanced with two additional swings for smaller children.

While there are some new elements, the basic structures are made of wood and will visually integrate into our environment while abiding by federal safety codes required for today’s playgrounds. The new design is cost-effective without compromising safety, quality or aesthetics.

The next step is to raise $65,000 to bring this playground to life. If the fundraising goal is exceeded, the committee of parents will consider adding elements such as additional picnic tables or a sunshade.

In addition to the financial aspect, volunteer support is necessary to build the playground, as this will not be installed by a company. The idea behind this community-built playground is that it is managed and organized by the caring and concerned volunteers of Topanga, not by a company that is simply hired to assemble a pre-fabricated playground.

Like our Community House was built brick-by-brick in 1952, the playground will be built by 100 percent volunteer labor in a barn-raising-type event during the week of August 26 through September 2.

This is an exciting project with great potential, but it will take the entire community to make it a reality. Donations of time, tools, material and cash are all important. Volunteers of all ages and skill levels are needed for every task. From ornate wood-cutting to helping with childcare or feeding volunteers, there is a task for everyone. During Build Week there will be three shifts per day at the playground site and the project requires no fewer than 25 volunteers working each shift to get the project completed within the timeframe. The design firm has asked for tools to be loaned from within the community to be used for the project—saws, drills, extension cords and more. All of these materials will be returned to their owners in original condition at the end of the build week.

While this is a big undertaking for Topanga, the playground company hired to assist the community has a proven model of success; they specialize in this kind of project.

The managers and staff have 60 years of combined experience working on community-built playgrounds and recently completed projects in Homer, Alaska; Austin, Texas; and Sacramento, CA. They will help us add Topanga to this list!

What can you do? There are several ways to get involved!

DONATE. Visit topangasonlyplayground.com to donate online.

VOLUNTEER. The TOP committee is in need of a tool coordinator but also needs 25 volunteers from around the Canyon during each shift to make this playground a reality. Volunteers with hands-on construction or building skills are eagerly welcome.

Learn more and sign up to work a shift on the website: topangasonlyplayground.com

SUPPORT. Pass along the information to your neighbors and friends. We all have memories of that charming childhood play place, a memory that brings a smile at the mere thought of it.

With your donation, you are helping to create those memories for the children of our Canyon.

Help our community build a playground that is as unique as Topanga!