To the Editor:
The Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District’s Mary Moss Playground is planned for renovation. RBA Consultants, through the Recreation Department, has presented an initial concept plan to Princeton Council, which was approved for further planning. Because few residents of the neighborhood were able to provide input, the Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District Committee held three neighborhood meetings to review the Mary Moss Playground Concept Plan.
To properly honor its founder, Mary Moss, create a learning environment for toddlers and young children, and to ensure that the playground is sustainable, safe, sanitary, and respectful of nearby neighbors, it is requested that the neighborhood determine the language, imagery, location, and placement of historical/cultural information about Mrs. Moss and the playground, including entry signage, pool outline marker, plaque, and seated Mary Moss 3-dimensional image, and we further request that the recreation department accept the following revisions:
1) Remove corner entry; retain access from Lytle and John Streets, setting back entries from shallow sidewalk area; provide a traffic-calming intersection table (under consideration by Princeton Council); and install signage acknowledging the “Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood’s Historic Mary Moss Playground” at the corner of Lytle and John.
2) Shift aquatic spray area into the southern corner, bordered by shrubbery; create a single entry to spray area with perimeter bench seating to confine wet area: keep the spray level to low heights; and choose skid-proof adaptable surfacing for storytelling.
3) Promote sustainability, replacing canopies with trees, replacing redundant ramp with heavily planted evergreen and flowering shrubbery buffer (forsythia was Mary Moss’s favorite); ground cover, soft surfacing for sitting, installing solar voltaic pavilion roof panels; sourcing local quarries for boulders; using post-consumer materials for building materials and appropriate equipment; placing recycling and trash containers at both levels.
4) Design slide and sloped area with more soft surfaces, age-appropriate for toddlers and attendant caregivers.
5) Provide a pavilion with dappled sunlight under which plants, art, and educational objects can be hung; and install an artwork wall.
6) Add a sand play area, shaded by pavilion; and consider reinstalling some form of animal sculptures.
7) Enhance book nook with a soft surfaced sitting area for storytime, (relocate spray area furnishings to storage area); accommodate displays of history and culture along both sides of ramp wall/barrier: install multi-media and audio-equipment for storytelling, including the history of Mary Moss, the playground, and the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood during segregated Princeton.
8) Install age-appropriate playground equipment in organic forms and colors, and of low-heat conducting materials.
9) Eliminate the port-a-potty, as the intended playground users either live or are cared for nearby.
10) Add motion-sensors and timers for daytime use of water-sprayers: add motion-sensor site-wide lighting; install time locked entry gates to prevent loitering; maintain deterrent plantings adjacent to permeable fencing at heights consistent with safety and aesthetic standards; install water fountains at upper and lower playing areas.
11) Provide appropriate staffing throughout the year for safety and educational programming.
The Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood looks forward to working collaboratively with the Recreation Department and its consultants in implementing these design revisions and refinements to the concept plan.
Respectfully submitted by,
On behalf of the Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District Committee: Shirley Satterfield, Bernadine Hines, Leighton Newlin, Kip Cherry, Daniel Harris, Tommy Parker, and John Heilner