Jul 26, 2014
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Recreation Department: Day Care Playground Schedule "Working"

Report from the Recreation Department shows improvement in schedule conflicts between Day Care Centers at town parks.

Recreation Department: Day Care Playground Schedule "Working"

A battle for Brookline's playgrounds and parks seems to have calmed down, in part due to communication and coordination.

Creating a schedule for the day care centers is paying off, according to officials from the Health and Recreation Departments, who have been monitoring use of parks since a warrant article last fall attempted to regulate park use.

"We have created a system that works really well for us, and it works for individual users, day care centers and other users," said Erin Chute Gallantine, Parks and Open Space Director explained.

This system uses a voluntary schedule for the day care centers and parks around town, aiming to prevent multiple large groups of children descending on a park at the same time and either preventing other kids from using the facilities, or creating too much noise.

Since the Recreation Department began monitoring the playgrounds, they report there have been four complaints. Most of these have been due to misunderstandings between schedulers and day care centers.

The report also indicates a handful of infractions where two day care groups arrived at the park at the same time. In some cases, one group was not participating in the schedule--these groups have since been included in the program.

According to Gallentine's report, these did not result in a perceived overcrowding.

In order to prevent overcrowding of play structures, participating day care centers are encouraged to use other areas of the park if play equipment appears to have a number of kids already using it. 

Gallentine said that the report's data came from park rangers asked to keep track of park use, monitoring when day care centers were using it, were scheduled how many groups, were present, and other factors. 

Of those 274 observations, the majority fell into two categories: no one was scheduled, and no one was present (36.9 percent of the time) or a daycare was scheduled and none were present (35.8 percent). It is possible these numbers are due to inclement weather, or that the day care group may have been in transit.

Selectman Dick Benka commented, "I really do commend you for trying to get your arms around this problem. It's not an easy one. To actually send rangers to get a sense of what’s actually happening was a terrific effort on your part."

The Recreation Department plans to continue monitoring use of the parks, and will compose a final report on the schedule's effectiveness. They also intend to continue coordinating park use with the day care centers.

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