Health clubs, fitness centers and private garden spaces are just some of the amenities a condo or co-op can provide to enhance the pleasure and convenience of its residents. However, another, less common amenity to consider is an interior or exterior play area. A well-designed, well-built playground not only draws families with young children into a building, but also creates a space for older children to keep healthy and active and spend time with their parents and adult guardians.
When designing a playground, three concerns are paramount: safety, durability, and budget. Playgrounds aren't just about welded steel jungle gyms and metal slides anymore. "[Board members] need to know that the industry has totally revolutionized the quality of materials and the variety of play events, and has changed tremendously in the guidelines to ensure children's safety," says Tom Rooney, sales and marketing director for Gotham Playgrounds and Surfacing in Glen Cove, Long Island.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are over 200,000 playground equipment-related injuries each year, just a tiny proportion of which involve equipment in apartment complexes. To help keep that percentage low, industry professionals adhere to strict building guidelines set forth by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the CPSC.
In addition to these guidelines, playground equipment must also meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that require - among other things - that recreation facilities and play areas be readily accessible to and usable by disabled individuals.
The choice of playground equipment is almost as important as the choice of the surface that it sits on. Falls from playground equipment onto the surface below is a contributing factor in 79 percent of all playground injuries. As a result, there are now certified play surfaces that help to insure the maximum safety and protect children from falls. Options for these surfaces include poured rubber, shredded rubber, and wood fiber. According to Gotham's surfacing information, poured rubber surfaces are the most permanent solution that provides cushioning thickness and shock absorbency, while the top layer provides durability. Shredded rubber is a loose protective surface that gives way when a child falls. Wood fiber is an engineered wood fiber that contains no waste wood and is environmentally friendly.