Dorothy Curran Play Area at Moakley Park
Other Ideas: Castle Island & Carson Beach at Fort Independence; Capron Park & Zoo; North Point Park & Splash Pad; Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park; Charles Bank Playground & Spray Deck
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The Dorothy Curran Playground is the City of Boston’s most accessible playground, designed with physically challenged children in mind, and is also the first playground project to be designed with “green” principles such as recycling and sustainability as guidelines.
The entire playground is designed for maximum wheelchair accessibility with flowing paths and ramps. Other features include extensive soft play surfacing, an accessible swing seat designed for children with special needs, and the use of fragrant plants to enhance the sensory experience for people with vision impairment or other disabilities.
The playground features a nautical theme conceived through discussions with community members and inspired by the park’s proximity to Boston Harbor.
This theme is visible throughout the park including two play structures in the form of a ship and lighthouse and pathways that resemble waterways and docks.
It also features a super cool spray park with flowing ribbon-like spouts that tower above like something Dr. Seuss would create.
Salvaged Coast Guard buoys were repaired and repainted for use within the playground’s “painted waterway” which also features a spring mounted boat named the S.S. Dorothy Curran and a musical sea turtle “drum.”
The buoys have been arranged to follow the navigation rules of channel markings while recycled pilings line the playground’s paths to make it appear as though visitors are traveling along piers.
The reuse of materials such as recycled curbing in the wharf-like wall, the steel buoys, and pilings add to the character and theme of the project while helping to save natural resources and reduce disposal needs.
Crushed concrete from existing walls on-site have replaced traditional gravel as a base under new pavement. The rubber play surfacing uses over 70% recycled material. A composite wood and plastic material has been utilized for bench and picnic table slats and the boardwalk surfacing.
A “Rain Garden” has been included to filter and absorb storm and spray pool runoff, reducing the impact of the project on the City’s storm drain system. A water-cycle has been designed to reuse runoff from the water play feature, directing the runoff to adjacent lawn areas. An area of “low-mow” grass has been established to minimize the need for mowing, thus reducing dependency on oil.
The grasses in this area are a special blend of six different low growing varieties that require mowing only once or twice per year. These low maintenance grasses reduce costs, minimize environmental impacts, and add a pleasing natural appearance to the park. Trees have also been planted for shade and to improve air quality.
The playground is named after Dorothy Curran, the late South Boston resident and longtime Parks Department employee who devoted her life to the children of the city and was a pioneer in advocating for accessibility issues. The Parks Department’s Wednesday evening summer concert series on City Hall Plaza is also named in Dorothy’s memory.
1005 Columbia Road, South Boston, MA map
1005 Columbia Road
South Boston, MA
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