Press-Republican

Sunday

October 7, 2012

Ready, set, play at Paw Print Park

LAKE PLACID — A rainy day made for a perfect playground workday Saturday. 

A crew of about 25 parents and some youngsters, wielding rakes, finished spreading ground cover to complete Paw Print Park, the elementary school recess area.

New slides and swings were set into their foundations.

And big village-owned loaders moved piles of soft, fibrous ground cover under, around and piled up next to climbers, swings and bouncing platforms.

“It’s kinda springy,” Rylee Preston, a fourth-grader, said of the new surface spread almost 2 feet deep.

“It smells like forest kind of wood,” she observed amid a drizzling mist.

The work crew was called together by the FRIENDS group, the parent organization that crafted the playground using natural materials.

After two young students were injured while playing on and around some equipment, the Lake Placid School District and FRIENDS reconfigured recess grounds.

Stones were removed, some high climbing gear was retooled and the sand surface replaced.

The state education department required stamped architectural plans for for the uniquely designed playground, so the district brought in a specialist, Steve Lauzun, whose company Parkitects crafts playgrounds and landscape structures.

Lauzun worked with the crew Saturday.

He explained some of the technology involved in the work.

A layer of “filter fabric,” a natural textile, was placed on the ground first.

“It separates the chips from the sand,” Lauzun said. “If sand mixes with the chips they don’t work like they’re supposed to.”

The chips aren’t everyday mulch.

“They’re actually engineered wood fiber,” Lauzun said.

“It’s a very clean wood chip, no bark, no twigs, no leaves. Then they take the wood chip and crush it to end up with a fibrous product. That’s what makes the ground cover knit together.”

In time, the soft, spongy surface will weave into a soft carpet of wood fiber.

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