The Discovery Playground at Hinsdale Park, created by the Nantucket Land Bank in collaboration with the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association (MMA), opens at 1 pm on September 1, 2019. The Discovery Playground is an inclusive, STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics), outdoor play, fitness, and gathering space for people of all ages. The design aesthetic reflects an effort to integrate the play equipment within an existing forest to create more of a woodland feel, which also has the practical benefit of providing areas of natural shade. It is the hope of the collaborators that all members of our community will feel welcome in this space.
The playground is located on Old South Road on Nantucket Land Bank property across the street from the State Forest. There are an estimated 375 children within walking distance of the playground, with many more anticipated as the nearby Richmond Great Point Housing Development and Ticcoma Green Workforce Rental Community are completed. Previously, no public playgrounds existed in this area. As a Land Bank property, the Discovery Playground at Hinsdale Park will be open daily from sunrise to sunset.
The design and construction of the playground was made possible through support from the Nantucket Cottage Hospital, Community Health Initiative, and the Town of Nantucket/Community Preservation Act, as well as an affirmative vote from Nantucket citizens at Annual Town Meeting on April 1, 2019. The playground also received generous financial support from the Land Bank Commission, who also contributed additional resources throughout the project to ensure that, according to Eric Savetsky, Executive Director of the Land Bank, it would be “not just a good playground, but a GREAT one.” Eric also notes, “In addition to this wonderful playground, a wildlife corridor was built into the design to maintain the existing natural connection between the State Forest and the middle moors.”
Community advisors include: Nantucket S.T.A.R, Nantucket Community School, the Town of Nantucket Planning Board, Small Friends on Nantucket, Town of Nantucket Parks and Recreation Committee, Nantucket Public Schools, and the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
All of the equipment and outdoor furnishings at the Discovery Playground are handicap accessible and/or allow for wheelchair transfer. The usage of “Poured-in-Place” ground surfacing enables the playground to be accessible for those in wheelchairs or using walkers. Much of the playground has a “high play value”, meaning that numerous children can play at the same time on multiple components and can do so in an inclusive environment for all abilities.
According to David Gagnon, Executive Director of the Maria Mitchell Association, “Everyday Science signs are placed throughout and will help children and parents understand the science behind playground equipment and activities. Critical thinking, scientific components, areas for sensory play, and areas that allow older children to participate are included. The Discovery Playground will be a playground for all ages and all abilities.
The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) is a private non-profit organization. Founded in 1902, the MMA works to preserve the legacy of Nantucket native astronomer, naturalist, librarian, and educator, Maria Mitchell. The Maria Mitchell Association operates two observatories, a natural science museum, an aquarium, a research center, and preserves the historic birthplace of Maria Mitchell. A wide variety of science and history-related programming is offered throughout the year for people of all ages.
The Nantucket Land Bank is a governmental organization created in 1983 by Nantucket voters seeking to preserve the island’s natural beauty for present and future generations. The organization is funded by a statutory two percent fee which is paid by purchasers of real property located in Nantucket county. Since inception, the Land Bank has worked to acquire, hold and manage key open spaces, provide waterfront access, protect ecological resources, promote local agriculture and create outdoor recreational opportunities for all.