Southern Pines Downtown Park

April 26, 2016

Downtown Southern Pines Park is one of our favorite parks in the area.  It’s central to a lot of things we have going on during the week and in walking distance to the girls’ dance studio.  We spend a lot of time here.  The park has been closed for a week or so for an “update”.  We finally made it over on Sunday and again today (Monday) to check it out and play.  I’ll preface this by saying we LOVED the park before, so we were a bit worried when we heard it was changing.  Here is a before photo:

The things we loved about the park before:  THE SAND, the entire thing was a huge sandbox.  Sand covered the ground under the swings and the big playground portion.  The girls loved to swing and jump off the swings into the sand.  Everyone was always barefoot and it was just like being at the beach.  (Granted the slight germaphobe in me was a bit grossed out by all the sand and some unsavory items we occasionally found in it, but we looked past that.)

We also loved the smaller toddler area.  The equipment was just the right size for little ones but also big enough for in between kids.  (like Mr. Three/almost Four)

Otherwise we were ready to see improvements.  It was a bit out dated and there are nicer parks in the area (SEE Memorial Park) The idea of an update wasn’t too scary for that reason.  We spend a lot of time here like I said, so I was still slightly concerned.

The new park is not much different than the old.  The one thing we loved the most is gone though…the sand.  The kids were super disappointed when we arrived, but we pressed on.  In the place of the sand they have closed in the large playground area with a type of light wood mulch.  

The swing area is turned sideways and the ground is a rubber-like surface; as is the area where the toddler equipment is located.  The swings are lower though more up to date.  You’ll find two regular swings and two large bucket swings with harnesses.  

I think the large swings are wonderful, especially for children with disabilities, and my kids absolutely loved them!  There were several kids waiting in line to have turns.  I do wish they had added more swings, though, it is already obvious there still aren’t enough.  Maybe they’ll add more some day.

Mr. Three and Miss. Nine enjoyed swinging together.  I can’t help but think of all the germs on those surfaces.  I know, chill right?

The toddler area is where I was left a bit disappointed.  While the swings were great, and we got one more than we had before, that was about all we could truly enjoy. 

The equipment is too small.  It’s simply not suitable for kids over the age of 2.5(3 max.)  Mr. Three (almost Four) is actually too big…as you can see in this photo.  He had to duck and squeeze into the spaces.

There is a tubular slide on the equipment which looks cool, but is super impractical.  It almost looks as if a piece is missing.  A few moms actually mentioned it to me while we were playing, we all agreed it was odd.  

Here is a photo of Mr. One standing up on the ground under the slide.  Slides typically drop you off semi-horizontally…this was just a steep drop, a bit scary for the little ones this equipment appears to be made for.  

We loved the hop scotch area.  The kids played there quite a bit, which surprised me.

My husband will be thrilled I posted photos of Mr. Three in his leggings (he calls them tights) so disregard that.  He’s nursing some major bike accident boo boos from yesterday.

Mr. One still enjoyed the playground quite a bit.  The sand table that is built 0n is the perfect height for him.  I would conclude that the equipment in the toddler area is perfect for 2 and under.

Unfortunately it’s difficult to police an outdoor playground; so the big kids, being eager to use the fun bright new equipment, actually made me a bit nervous they were going to break it.  I did do some research on the company these items are from and it appears the town spent quite a bit on this.  I sincerely hope that a mom or dad was consulted when ordering this piece.  I also hope that it was intended for 2 and under, otherwise, they didn’t get their money’s worth.  I would have loved to have seen something a bit larger for the 1-5 age range.

 Here is another view of the large playground (this is the same equipment that was here before…it’s excellent, no need to replace) from the toddler area.

The large playground is great, it has several slides and tunnels.  There is so much for the kids to do on it, and once the newness of the other items wear off, I’m sure it’ll be a buzz again.  Just without the soft sand landings we were used to.

Mr. One loves to climb anything so he was happy the entire time.

Don’t worry though, the sand is not totally gone!  They did leave a very large sandbox for the kids to enjoy!  There is ample space for fun and it is sufficient.

  Other positives to this park; the bathrooms are new and always sparkly clean!  There is also a beautiful area for picnics, tennis courts and a basketball court nearby.

All in all, the park is wonderful.  It does appear much more manicured and tidy now.  I do, however, wish the new equipment was less “futuristic” looking and more natural and organic looking.  Below is a photo that I thought would be really cool for the town and the vibe they put out.  This plus maybe even a splash pad would’ve been a great addition!  Now I’m dreaming.

Thank you to our towns for investing in our kids and making their play a priority.  We are thankful for so many great parks to visit in our area!