We finally received an answer from the Seattle Parks Department about why the popular sandbox at West Woodland Park next to the zoo was completely covered by wood chips.
Many people assumed it was a mistake when workers brought in new wood chips for the entire play area, but today the Parks Department sent us this letter, explaining that the sand box is gone for good, but that the other sandy area will soon be improved:
Dear community members:
My apologies for the delay in responding to your inquiry about the sandbox at the West Woodland play area. We will post a sign at the play area today to let people know why the sand was removed.
Seattle Parks and Recreation recently took over maintenance of this play area, which was previously maintained by Woodland Park Zoo. There were two sand areas at the West Woodland play area, one on each side of the large climbing structure. For the safety of children, the smaller, 275-sq.-ft. sandbox was converted to wood safety surfacing and will have a spring toy added. The 1000-sq.-ft. sandbox remains and will have new sand and a sand play table added. These play elements have been ordered and will be installed when they arrive.
The safety issue with the small sandbox was that the sand migrated into the wood safety surfacing that is under the high slide. The sand contaminates the safety surfacing, and we could not ensure that the safety surfacing met the fall attenuation requirements for a fall from the height of the slide. The sand from the larger sandbox also migrates, but there is not a high critical fall height in this area.
We will install the sand play table away from the sand boundary with the wood surfacing to encourage kids to build their sand castles in the area away from the wood surfacing. Parents can help maintain the safety surfacing by discouraging their children from moving the sand outside of the sand box.
Seattle Parks strives to meet the safety standards for public play areas found in the US Consumer Produce Safety Commission’s (CPSC) “Public Playground Safety Handbook”, Pub. No. 325, available free at www.cpsc.gov ; and the American Society of Testing and Materials, (ASTM) F 1487 Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use and ASTM F 1292, Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surfacing Materials within the Use Zone of Playground Equipment, available for sale from www.astm.org or in our office at 800 Maynard Ave S.
The West Woodland play area received $350,000 for renovation in the 2008 Parks and Greenspaces Levy. This project will be scheduled toward the end of the six-year levy because many of the other play areas on the list currently have safety needs that are more critical.
Thank you for your inquiry and, again, my apologies for the delay in letting you know what was going on.
Superintendent’s Office, Seattle Parks and Recreation