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The New Play Surfaces in the Vista Lakes Parks

By Jim Shelton, Communications Committee
December, 2012

As detailed in the January 2013 newsletter, in the Fall of 2012 new rubberized play surfaces were installed in Amhurst Park, Vista Park (next to Lake Vista in Carlisle) and Newport Park.  These replaced the wooden mulch that was old, splintery, sometimes soaked and generally yucky as a play surface for kids.  This effort was instigated by the Vista Lakes Amenities Committee(a) after extensive research of alternative play surfaces.

This article describes the components of the new play surfaces and how they were installed.

There are three components of the play surfaces:  the crushed concrete foundation, the cushion base and the topcoat.  The first step of installing the play surfaces was digging out the old wood mulch down to solid earth.  French drains(*) had been installed underneath the mulch when the playgrounds were built over ten years ago; these needed unclogging and socks installed around them to prevent future clogging.  This work was done by Doug Chapman, a contractor who has done a lot of work for the Association.  Then Doug laid down five inches of crushed concrete and impacted it to form a firm but porous foundation.

Doug in his Bobcat working with the crushed concrete at Amhurst Park
Doug in his Bobcat working with the crushed concrete at Amhurst Park

Doug and His Helper Laying Down the Crushed Concrete Foundation at Vista Park
Doug and His Helper Laying Down the Crushed Concrete Foundation at Vista Park

Compacting the Crushed Concrete
Compacting the Crushed Concrete

The next step was to mix and put down the cushion base; they used a portable concrete mixer. The base consists of shredded tires mixed with a polymer which binds the rubber shreds together in a flexible way. The stringy nature of the shredded rubber helps hold the base together.

 

Shredded Rubber
Shredded Rubber

Getting Ready to Pour the Polymer into the Mixer
Getting Ready to Pour the Polymer into the Mixer

 

Dumping the Base from the Mixer to a Wheelbarrow
Dumping the Base from the Mixer to a Wheelbarrow

 

The Start of Laying the Base at Vista Park
The Start of Laying the Base at Vista Park

Continuing Laying the Base
Getting Ready to Pour the Polymer into the Mixer

 

They work their way in strips across the play surface. The base is nominally 2 ½ inches thick except in heavy-use areas, such as under the swings in the background where they lay down about 3 ½ inches.

Installed Base
Installed Base

This is the base looks like when it is finished. Where supports come through the base as shown here, they first spray the support with a binder so the base adheres to it. As you would expect, this is springy to walk on.

After the base has cured the topcoat is applied. Instead of shreds of tires, it is composed of small chunks of black and colored manufactured rubber mixed together with the polymer.

Installing the Topcoat
Installing the Topcoat

 

Green Topcoat Pieces
Green Topcoat Pieces

Close-Up of the Topcoat
Close-Up of the Topcoat

 

The topcoat is approximately ½ inch thick.

The topcoat and base are not solid; there are plenty of open spaces for water to drain through. In fact, the supervisor told me if you turned a water hose on it, the water would drain through the surface before puddles can form. Between the rubberized material, the crushed concrete foundation and the underlying French drains(*), we should not have to contend with puddled play surfaces.

And Here Is the Finished Product!
And Here Is the Finished Product!

The company that designed this kind of play surface and installed it is Everguard Surfaces(*) headquartered in Long Island, New York, which is where the four man crew that installed our play surfaces were from.

A note of caution: while durable, the rubberized play surface can be damaged by sharp objects such as cleats, etc.

Enjoy the new surfaces in our playgrounds!

 


(a) The Amenities Committee was established by the Board to provide oversight of the operations and maintenance of the amenities area (the pools, buildings and surrounding area inside the outer fence, parking lots, tennis courts), the three parks, and landscaping and irrigation of VLCA-owned land. At the time this article was written, its members were Carol Schuett (chair), Toni Campbell, Dottie Cumello and Jeff Hohman.

(*) Clicking these links will open a new window displaying information from outside the VLCA web site and therefore the VLCA cannot be held responsible for the content displayed.

 
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