Back in November Eyes on the Street reported that construction on Seger Park’s new playground was cruising along. And after being closed for four months, Seger Park Playground reopened on January 11, much to the delight of neighborhood families. Here’s what it looked like on a recent afternoon:
The $500,000 renovations to Seger Park Playground created two new play areas in the park on the 1000 block of Lombard Street. A new tot lot is divided off from the main playground with a low fence, and features scaled-down playground equipment – bucket swings, bouncy seesaws, a tiny slide, and rubbery mounds to climb –for the youngest crowd. On the “big kid” side, there are several, new play structures with slides, bars and bridges, rope webs, a whirling rope tree, and even a giant saucer-shaped swing. And underfoot: that satisfyingly squishy rubber surface that helps to prevent bumps and bruises.
On a recent visit to the new playground on an unusually warm winter day, there were nearly as many adults as kids playing on the new Seger Park play structures.
Evelyn Alvelo was visiting the playground with her mother, son, and daughter and was thrilled with the experience. She likes the huge saucer swing and the new foam surface far better than the wood chip playground at her kids’ school. Her son really likes the spinning rope tree the best. One aspect of the park's design that Ms. Alvelo especially likes is the ability to spend time with the family dog in the dog run while keeping an eye on her kids in the playground just beyond the low fence. "There is a clear view," she said approvingly.
Ms. Alvelo shared one of the new benches with her mother, Sandra Reyes, who had tested out most of the new equipment herself. (She certifies the playground as “adult-proof.”) While resting after hanging upside-down on the monkey bars, Ms. Reyes said there was only one thing missing: "A seesaw. For the adults."
Nearby Diane K. and her five year-old son Bryan were testing out the web of climbing ropes between two play structures. Although they were clearly enjoying their playground time, Diane admitted that she missed the old playground a bit. Perhaps out of nostalgia for their frequent visits when they lived close by and Bryan was smaller. It was their first time revisiting the playground since it reopened, and they just weren’t sure how they felt about the change.
“I think it caters a lot more to older kids now,” Diane said. As she explained that Bryan was a bit scared for the first 10 minutes of their visit, he was busy climbing to the to the top of rope structure.
“I’m the king of the jungle climb,” Bryan exclaimed. He seemed to be adjusting just fine.
The broken splash pad at the center of the playground was given a fresh coat of blue paint, but it remains out of order. And, although it feels chilly to think about it now, a new water feature to replace the old splash pad will be Phase II of the playground's renovation campaign. Friends of Seger Park Playground is working to raise the remaining $195,000 needed in order to make their fantastic "Fluidscape" project a reality.
Ashley Hahn is an independent writer with a background in historic preservation and city planning. She started Eyes on the Street for PlanPhilly in 2011 and was PlanPhilly's managing editor from 2015-2017. Ashley has lived in 12 zip codes that she can think of, including neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and New York. She is a Philadelphian by choice.