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I'll miss the castle

I'm grateful that other people are working hard to raise money for a playground that my kids will play on. But I'm going to miss this.


And don't know what to think of this.


The Junior League of Duluth is raising money for it. The plan is to replace the wooden playground by next summer.


My girls loved that park. When we were living in the Cities and visiting Grandpa on weekends we would always go down to that park and they loved it! When we moved back to Duluth to live they would go down to the park to play just to relive the days we spent there in their youth. Glad they are keeping the park but hope they make it as memorable and as fun as the original.

I helped build Playfront (ok, I helped sand the edges once it was built) and my kids love playing on it when we come back to Duluth.

They're replacing it with that metal stuff? Ick.

I don't mind replacing wood playgrounds with the plastic ones - I remember many slivers from my childhood days - but holy cow that one in the picture is UGLY! That's not even a playground! Where are the slides and tunnels and swings and bridges? That's just a glorified jungle gym.

Ugh. Kids need creativity and fantasy, not abstract metalrubberplastic ugliness. The hubby & I bring our kids there a lot, and I just don't think it'll be as fun of an experience for them (or us) if it's anything like the second photo. Why can't they build a non-wooden castle park? Or even build a different theme, but make it a recognizable form like a jungle or ships or giant fruits & veggies... anything but that horrific tangle of meaninglessness. Geez, maybe I should start designing parks. Okay, I'll stop bitching now.

The wood is made from treated lumber = arsenic.
Personally, I prefer the non-toxic playground for the youngsters to enjoy.

I like both, actually, in different ways. The bottom one looks positively Seussian!

They're replacing the castle?!? I love the castle!
They probably want to replace it with "modern art playground chic" to match the ugly-ass aquarium.

One of the downsides to Playfront is that it is a really tough place to keep track of kids--one of our friends cheerfully noted that the obstructed sight lines and multiple exits made it an ideal venue for kidnapping. I don't tends to be particularly alarmist about that sort of thing, but it can be kind of a hassle trying to find a spot where you can maintain some idea what one's children are doing.

Of course I don't object to the architecture of the aquarium either, so there you go.

Ok, after looking at their website, I have to admit some of that stuff is pretty cool. It really looks like an open system where it could rock or suck depending on how you build it. It even has some swings and some kick-ass slides: http://www.playlsi.com/Products/Playsystems/PlayBooster/PBSlides/

In other news, the new playground totally needs to have this piece: Starfire Spacenet Climber

According to the Junior League's website, "the innovative Evos design of the new playground promotes a range of strength and aerobic activities that encourage children to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle."

In the original Playfront, kids ran around because they thought wooden castles were a cool place to run around in. By contrast, the new Playfront has all the appeal of a doctor administering a prescription--"Here are some colored rings, children. When I say go, start exercising." Where are the secret tunnels and crawlspaces for hiding? Where is any level place above the ground that kids can just hang out?

I also oppose the idea of moving Playfront to the bay. Right now, there is ample, free parking in the large dirt lot around Playfront. On the bay, parking will be metered and crowded.

The Junior League still has time to correct their plans. I hope they do.

arsenic and slivers. It was fun, but it's done.
The playground at Como Park in St Paul has drawbridges and castle stuff but isn't wood. I always thought that one was cool.
That new one looks ok.
I like the aquarium too.

I am all for the creosote and arsenic if it gets kids playing. When my mom and her sisters were growing up they played in a GRAIN ELEVATOR. Not exactly a safe place.

But I did see a new namby-pamby playground this weekend over at Barker's Island and the kids just loved it. It was like a tower with chains and shredded tires for the ground surface. Walking around felt like walking on the moon. It looked really wierd, but the kids were really , really into it.

So what do I know.

My vote for funnest playground in Duluth is easily the oreboat and bridge one down on park point. When I was little we used to go there on school trips and EVERYONE would have so much fun running around and playing. Feeds the imagination.

How about a somewhat similarly themed castle design, (with improved sightlines) made out of that faux wood stuff that decks and rails are sometimes made of? No splinters, etc.

The bottom picture looks a little like a Russian forced exercise program. And like Dr. Suess on acid. And like Peter Max's wet dream.

My son (5 1/2 years) loves the playground shape as it is now. I'm pretty skeptical of the plastic and metal playgrounds that are going up right now, mostly because they simply don't seem much fun for the kids. (One exception being--the mostly metal playground put up near the cathedral gets a thumbs up from my son for playability).

I do think removing arsenic laced wood from contact with kids' hands, feet, legs and behinds is a most excellent idea.

How about considering the use of recycled plastic timbers and planks to build something similar to the existing design. I know plastic is yucky overall, but we've made so much of it that we better find uses for recycling it to remove it from the waste stream. I know a few folks who have used plastic "lumber" for replacing decks, and a quick search for "recycled plastic lumber playground" brought lots of links including this:


Suggestions for what materials to use for this playground are wasted here. You need to contact the people that actually make these things. I am a little surprised at all the "nostalgia" for something that was built less than 20 years ago. Materials change- design concepts change- safety standards change- but in the end, it is the kids who will play, not us.

OK Tim, Good points, but I still say that just because kids loved something 10 or 20 years ago means that it is automatically outdated for Kids Today. (Other than the pesky arsenic and splinters.)

The only person I know that's actually in the Junior League hates me, so maybe someone else who is friends with someone in the club could maybe pass on a link to the thread.

I'm sure there are other good ideas out there too, and some nice Junior Leaguers who would happily take community input!


Yup, you're right that this is not the place for maximum impact, but I posted my comments to add to the collective discussion here precisely so that the entire thread could be sent to the Junior League folks to communicate something of a collective sense of one part of the community's thoughts. I intend to contact the Junior League, and to point them to this thread (as Girl from the NC suggests above).

I'm not nostalgic for something 20 years old--I simply would like to advocate for "not fixing what isn't broken." The current design of Playfront works to keep my kid engaged with running around and playing, and the kind of playgrounds that are currently being built such as the new one at Portland Square simply don't. He hasn't expressed any interest in playing at Portland Square after we tried out the new equipment there.

Anyone else who wants to weigh in on the proposed redesign could do it both here AND to the Junior League.

anybody visited playgrounds in new zealand? we bummed around there with our toddler for 6 months and all of them were righteous! super dangerous equipment. devices to spin you senseless, 30ft ziplines , full-on trampolines. and they all have shade canopies over them because of that pesky hole in the ozone layer.

i love playfront as it is, the leeching arsenic, not so much. this new breed of hyper safe playgrounds is depriving our kids of formative risk-taking and knee-scraping. as a mom, it takes some jarring moments out of my day, but it's not doing the next gen any favors.

how much Arsenic is in the playground wood? I doubt its that bad.

After 20 years, I'm sure the arsenic and is washed from the wood and it's all in the gravel and dirt under the stuff. Man my kids love Playfront - Hell I love Playfront. It's one of those things you look at and ask "Who in their right mind would have built this." The hiding places are a pain in the ass for parents when it's time to round up the kiddies and go, but that's really the appeal, I think. There one similar in Marquette Michigan if we all start missing this one next year. The only playground I've ever seen that's better is in Houghton, MI. There's a tube slide that's ridiculously long, going down the side of the hill toward the Lake. Lots of splinters in that thing too.
Here's someone's movie of the slide.

Maybe we can ask the Junior League to put a big long slide down Lake Ave.

Oooh, ohhh, here's a better picture of that slide in Houghton.

We all REALLY need one of these.
I hope the mayor is reading this.

i've always wanted to do a shakespeare in the park with that playground as the set.

God, I remember smacking my head on that stupid wooden thing so many times. But I will miss it.

i almost got laid in that castle one night.

My friend got lucky in the gazebo in the little park in Moose Lake (with a semi famous local dead guy - before his untimely passing)

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