Opinion: Time to move ahead on playground renovation for La Jolla Recreation Center

OPINION / OUR VIEW: Anyone with young children in their lives — moms, dads, nannies, grandparents, teachers, families on vacation — knows the indisputable, day-brightening value of a trip to the playground. It's a universal joy that provides all concerned with the promise of fun, fresh air, friends, relaxation, exercise, the chance to hone athletic skills, try something new and tap the imagination.

In the words of author/educator, O. Fred Donaldson, "Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn."

Another super great thing about playgrounds is they're free and everyone's welcome to use them. How fortunate for The Village of La Jolla that its Park & Rec Board has received a generous gift of $350,000 (thank you very much anonymous donors!) to improve its Recreation Center playground. The aging equipment is outdated, not accessible to children with disabilities, and there are no shade structures to provide relief from the sun on hot afternoons.

But now, with the sky as their limit (along with a $350,000 budget and city regulations), the Park & Rec Board has the means to add some new sparkle to The Jewel for its children and visitors.

Imagine building a "Playscape By the Sea" with marine-inspired features, or a "Dr. Seuss-ville" with a Cat in The Hat or Lorax Trees to climb. Or we could challenge the town's many artists to design a "Surfboard Cityland" with play equipment positioned inside "waves" of all sizes, "clam shells," and a replica of the WindanSea Shack.

For more traditional ideas, playgroundequipment.com lists these playful plans: Pirate Ship with flags, panels with portholes, a bow, ship's wheel, roof designed to look like sails, a crow's nest, birds and monkeys! Outerspace structures featuring satellites, robots and spaceships. A forest with tree stumps, animal panels, treehouse roofs, slides and crawl tubes. A castle with turrets, flying flags and themed activity panels. An All Aboard Train rocking railroad wheel panels, windows, climbers and bridges.

The Park & Rec Board is in the process of choosing a plan for a new playground and is seeking ideas, expertise and community support to move forward. If a design is drawn and building permits passed by this summer, construction could begin in the fall and the new playground could be a holiday gift to all, come December.

Meetings to get the ball rolling are scheduled for 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 22 and 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 26 at the La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St. If you can contribute suggestions or sources NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT AND AVOID FUTURE REGRET!

Unfortunately, there is not a dedicated website nor phone number for sharing playground renovation ideas. However, La Jolla Park & Rec Board Chair, Cindy Greatrex, welcomes input via her e-mail address at cindy.greatrex@diplomats.com

Those with ideas for the playground PLEASE come forth and present your suggestions. See you at the meetings!

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