Warrant for Improvements at Francis Wyman Playgrounds May 27, 2009
Francis Wyman Playgrounds Are Used by Entire Town
- The playgrounds at the Francis Wyman Elementary School are some of the most widely used play areas in the Town.
- In addition to the ~600 students who attend during the school year, these playgrounds are also used by:
- School Department after-school program.
- YMCA after-school program.
- Town-wide summer full-day childcare program.
Safety and Accessibility Issues with Playgrounds
- Serious safety and poor disability access conditions exist at the Francis Wyman playgrounds which require immediate attention.
- For over a year now, the special needs students at Francis Wyman have not visited many of the playground areas due to poor surface conditions and lack of adequate access structures.
- Already one documented accident involving a student in a wheelchair caused by poor surface conditions.
Play Areas Need to Be Refurbished
- The original play equipment and grounds were put in place in 1997/98 when the school first reopened – some of this equipment was borrowed from the Wildwood School and other places.
- Deteriorating play equipment that is well over 10 years old now requires removal and replacement.
- Several play areas are open lots of dirt and grass, with essentially no play equipment, and require new structures and landscaping.
A Partnership With the Town and PTO
- The PTO is 100% committed to improving the play areas at Francis Wyman, and has started its plan for substantial fundraising over the next year.
- However, we need the town’s support to rectify the Safety and Disability Access issues which need immediate attention.
- We are also requesting that the town share some of the cost of refurbishing the Francis Wyman playgrounds as has been done in the past.
Front Lot Playground Upper Playground Back Playground
- The Francis Wyman school utilizes three playgrounds during recess.
- A Reading Garden area is used for classroom specific activities.
Reading Garden Hill Hill Hill
- The proposed improvement plan will address issues at all these areas.
- The asphalt surface of the front playground requires repair.
- After several iterations of repair, the cracks are now too big to be simply filled in.
- The asphalt surface needs to be ground down and resurfaced.
The Reading Garden walkway also requires resurfacing.
Inadequate Surface on Back Playground
- To provide adequate protection from an ~6’ fall (measured from the head), a minimum of six inches of bark mulch is required.
- Handbook for Public Playground Safety, U.S. Pub. No. 325
- The level of mulch at back playground is between ½ to zero inches in depth, providing NO protection against falls from play equipment.
Underground pipe for sound tubes is now exposed.
Recommended level of mulch is designated on all play structures.
Install New “Permanent” Surface in Back Playground
- The proposed fix is to install a combination rubber surface.
- Rubber mulch already in Tot Lot on Pathwoods Avenue.
- Low maintenance cost – 10 year warrantee, no need for yearly replenishing.
- Almost 2x safety margin - will reduce playground injuries (impact, splinters).
- The current ramp leading down to the back playground is not ADA (American Disability Act) compliant.
- The ramp is too narrow and steep, and the special needs students haven’t been to that area in over a year.
- The proposal is to install a new ADA compliant ramp with railings.
Disability Access Commission is Partnering with Town
- We are asking the town to partner with the Disability Access Commission and fund a hard rubber surface on part of the back playground surface.
- It is very difficult for young children in wheelchairs to maneuver on mulch – the new surface will allow them to freely move about.
- The current surface of the back playground is too low to allow access to special swings – the new surface will provide a fixed height.
- Due to the poor condition of the back playground LABBB children have not attended recess there FOR OVER A YEAR!
- The DAC has very generously offered to pay for 2/3rds of the cost of the surface!
Installation of Inclusive Play Events and Structures on Back Playground
- Promotes interaction between LABBB children and rest of student body.
- PTO will contribute to the majority of the cost of these new structures.
- We are asking the town, together with the PTO, to fund half of the cost of new/replacement play and shaded structures in the upper and back playgrounds, along with landscaping the surrounding hills.
- This was done previously in 1997/98 at Francis Wyman, and was also the case with the Pine Glen and Fox Hill schools.
- The town will not release money until the PTO has attained their fundraising goals.
- We are also asking the town to fund an architectural design of a natural playground using the barren areas surrounding the back, with the PTO to fully implement these designs.
- The upper playground is without any play structures and has essentially no shade.
- A road runs along two sides of this play area.
- The plan includes installing a safety fence along with shaded play structures.
- Proposed play structures for upper playground.
- This deteriorating play structure, designated for the younger children, will be replaced in the back playground.
- Proposed replacement play structures.
- Extensive landscaping is required on the hills surrounding the back playground.
- Without proper landscaping, dirt and debris will run onto the new playground surfaces.
- The open lot next to the back playground is a mix of grass and dirt.
- The area adjacent to this is also in very poor shape.
- We are asking the town to fund an architectural design for creating a natural play area for the children which the PTO will implement.
- An example of a natural play area.
- A natural play area is very cost-effective compared to standard play equipment, and the children can participate in the design.
- Between the Town, Disability Access Commission and the Francis Wyman PTO, we can make the Francis Wyman playgrounds a safe, nurturing environment for all our students.
- The FW PTO is 100% committed to this project.
- Please support this endeavor at the September 24 th Town Meeting.