At Potts Playground, at the corner of Erdman Avenue and Tee-Ar Place in Princeton Borough, it's easy to be carried away by the serene and off-the-beaten-path character of this, one of the Borough's many "pocket parks."
But now, amid the spring toys, the slide, basketball court, and swing sets, there is a shiny new piece of equipment that was rejected from one prospective home, only to find a new, perhaps more appropriate locale. The toy, a so-called whirl toy, six feet in diameter with room for about four children does as its name suggests: whirls. The piece fits in nicely with the understated theme of the rest of the playground, one that is easy to miss if you're passing by.
The whirl was supposed to be the most prominent addition to Pine Street Park, an even smaller pocket park. The park had been set to undergo a $25,000 rehabilitation administered by the Borough in a project spearheaded by street residents with assistance from the Princeton Parks Alliance. The park, just barely the size of a vacant lot, was due for new landscaping, a terrace area for picnics namely, the annual Pine Street Park block party and a children's toy, in this case, a whirl.
But in August, when the Borough Public Works department prepared the concrete base and mandatory mulch-cushioned "fall zone" for the whirl, residents immediately balked at the toy's size in comparison to the 30-foot by 34-foot expanse. The whirl, they said, was just too big and would overwhelm so small a park.
While there were other design problems, it became clear that the whirl was not going to be part of the renovated park, and there it sat: a $2,800 piece of equipment lodged away in the Borough's Public Works garage on Harrison Street.
For a month-and-a half, work was stopped on Pine Street Park, while Councilman Andrew Koontz and Council President Peggy Karcher worked with Pine Street residents in finding a potential solution. So far, there is talk of a sandbox taking the place of the whirl, but some residents, as well as Mr. Koontz, have raised concerns regarding sanitation.
At this point, however, whatever changes may be coming to Pine Street Park they will likely not occur until the spring when a meeting is in the works between Pine Street residents and Dan Dobromilsky, the landscape consultant who had worked on the previous plan.
With Potts Playground, there was room for the new toy. Anne O'Neill, wife of the late Borough Mayor Joe O'Neill and a member of the Parks Alliance, and Mr. Koontz surveyed neighbors at a block party at the park and response turned out to be positive. "There was space available in the park; it didn't require the removal of other equipment, and now it's in," Mr. Koontz said.
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