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Play By Design designer Lisa DeShano walks through the new playground design with Hillsdale students at the Design Day reveal.

Friends of Everhart Park in collaboration with Hillsdale Elementary and Play by Design, playground designers, held their Design Day reveal last Wednesday night for the new playground that is being built at Everhart Park in West Chester. 

Parents, students and members of the school and community gathered together in the Hillsdale gym waiting impatiently while members of the project team walked through the process to date –  there was a survey to the community, design sessions with students, and a recap of site-logistics. 

Then lead designer on the project, Lisa DeShano called all the children in attendance to the front of the room and asked them to sit in front of a cloth-draped presentation board leaning on an easel. Then with everyone settled, she began to paint a picture of the playground that was about to be theirs. 

“Imagine you see this super-tall two-story tree house in the distance. Then you see this eye-ball thing but as you get closer it looks like a dragon. Wait, it’s a playhouse. No, it’s rocket!” she described to her rapt audience.

The design which includes all your playground musts, such as slides, swings and a climbing wall, also focuses heavily on what Lisa called, “imaginative play” including spaces and elements like the dragon tower that can be interpreted many different ways. 

Another priority for the playground was to create a space that is welcoming to as many as possible. Lisa described a tree house that could accommodate wheelchairs, an obstacle course with elements of varying heights for children of all sizes and abilities – even areas for parents?  

Another key element to the design is personalization. One of the goals for the Friends of Everhart Park was to create a space that fit uniquely into the West Chester community and Everhart Park specifically. To do this the playground will feature store-front facades to mimic downtown and include a natural play area where kids can explore and play with elements gathered from throughout the park. There is also an opportunity to include original artwork into the design but no details were provided on where or how that might happen. 

It was also noted that not all elements included in the sketch presented last week, are included in the base design. Some items, such as the zip line (a favorite among the kids), are, for now, outside the scope and budget of the project. It is just not clear from this original drawing which elements are in and which are maybes. 

In hopes of getting as many elements in as possible, Friends of Everhart Park (FoEP) will be fundraising from now until the playground is built. You can learn more about how to support FoEP and this project on their website.   

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Bird’s eye view of Everhart Park’s new playground. Zoom in to see details.

About the playground: 

The new Everhart playground will feature a two-story tree house with wheel-chair accessibility, a rock wall, an obstacle course, multiple slides, including a two-story “swirly vortex” slide and a rolling pirate ship. 

There will also be a natural play area where kids can explore with their surroundings, some musical elements and store-front facades to mimic downtown and, if fundraising goes well, a zip line.

Site logistics: 

Once construction is complete, there will no longer be two separate play areas at Everhart. There will be a single area with elements designed to accommodate all ages and skill levels. The new playground will occupy the same real estate as the current 5-12 year old playground. If you are familiar with the park, this is the area with the dragon, rock-wall and super high slide. In a cost saving measure, builders will attempt to save the swings from the toddler playground and relocate them to the new location. A new walking path will also be added. All other elements in the park – basketball courts, activity building, and trees will remain as they are.  

Next steps for the project: 

The design team is taking the initial drawings back to the office to finalize and review for compliance with ASTM guidelines for playgrounds and International and Consumer Product Safety standards. 

No word yet as to when construction may begin but as soon as I have an update I will share. 

Learn more about the project and how they got to this amazing design. Plus, eleven more West Chester parks to explore. 

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