Friday, May 28, 2010

Union Square Metal Dome: Fun to Climb, Until the Temperature Does, Too

closed dome at Union Square Park

Photographs by Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park AdvocatesThe Mountain at Union Square Park is off limits for now because it gets too hot to touch.
dome signA parks department sign explains why the dome is closed for play.

A bill to make playgrounds safer for children is garnering more attention as parents across New York complain about playground equipment that heats up in the summer sun and scorches their children’s hands and feet.

Assemblyman Micah Kellner introduced the bill earlier this year: It would require all playground equipment to be temperature tested. The Legislature may vote on the measure within two weeks, according to the New York Times.

“While kids are always going to get hurt playing, there are certain things we can do to mitigate the risk,” Mr. Kellner said.

Most recently, a shiny six-foot-high stainless steel dome called the Mountain was made off limits to children clamoring to jump, climb and slide on it in the new $2.4 million Union Square Park playground in Manhattan. Some parents and park advocates said the shimmering orb was more like a fireball than a suitable piece of playground equipment. On hot days, parents said, their children touched the dome and pulled back as if it were a hot pan.

Last week the Department of Parks and Recreation cordoned off the Mountain. The parks department plans to erect a shade structure made of green cloth that stands nearly eight feet above the dome to keep it cooler. The park designers planted dawn redwoods around the playground, but those trees are not mature enough yet to shade the 15,000-square-foot area.

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Fun to Climb, Until the Temperature Does, Too

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