The Esplanade Playspace opened a little more than a year ago, but the state-of-the-art playground has already gained national prominence, even gracing the pages of the Wall Street Journal in November.
“This is now becoming the new standard for play in this country,” said Tani Marinovich, who co-founded the Playspace with Jean Egan and is the major gifts officer for The Esplanade Playspace. “This is someplace everyone comes to on weekends, people from all neighborhoods and from throughout the Commonwealth.”
The 10,000 square-foot playground, which was built on state land located near the Hatch Shell café and the Arthur Fiedler Footrbridge, opened on Oct. 29, 2011. It was designed to help 5 to 12-year-old build upper-body strength, and features a 65-foot zipline, a rock-climbing sculpture and a “swing dish,” among other elements. The project was spearheaded by the Friends of the Esplanade Playspace, a non-profit that raised the approximately $1.1 million in construction costs largely through private donations.
“We had a great relationship with [the Department of Conservation and Recreation] because they were willing to build with us,” Marinovich said. “The plot of land was just gravel, but they knew it had potential.”
Jill Morelli, a Charlestown resident and self-described “Park Street School mom,” describes the Playspace as an “important element” to the school curriculum in and around Beacon Hill.
“It’s a challenge to get ‘older’ kids climbing, hanging, swinging, etc. these days as it is, but it’s even more challenging for kids in city schools that don’t have their own outdoor facilities,” Morelli wrote in an e-mail “The Playspace solves this problem for school kids in the neighborhood and beyond.”
The Friends group now hopes to raise funds to pay off the remaining $20,000 in construction costs, as well as to sponsor programming, including a children’s yoga class and a wood sculpting class with Mitch Ryerson, the Cambridge artist who designed wood elements in the Playpace.
“Let’s just make it better,” Marinovich said. “There’s more we can add and more we can do to make it better.”
For more information about the Esplanade Playspace or to make a donation, visit www.esplanadeplayspace.org.