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Sentinel Park

Equipment by KSL (defunct)

Surface: rubber.

Based on the photos I’d seen, I was excited to visit Sentinel Park.

It looks good in pictures. The splash pad has some unique-looking elements, there are lots of trees, and the new-ish play structure is by KSL; a Canadian company that’s no longer in business, giving the playground a collector’s item appeal. (Well, at least to collectors like me.)

But the longer we spent here, the more the place’s shortcomings became apparent.

Let’s start with the unique-looking elements in the splash pad. They’re cool, no doubt. One sprayer looks like an abstract sculpture of a tree. But most of the twisting metal in its design is decoration, and doesn’t actually emit water. The water mostly comes out the top in a haphazard way that reminds me of the “soaker” setting on our garden hose. In other words, a kid approaching it is less likely to get showered and more likely to get pelted.

Moving on to another cool part of the splash pad: the “water curtain” element. Again, this looks like fun; multiple nozzles spray downwards, inviting little ones to jump through a wall of water. But the confounding thing is that rather than have the water trickle down and let gravity do the work, the nozzles spray the water downward with pressure-washer ferocity, such that it’s hard to imagine any kid wanting to get too near. Add to this that there are several darker parts of the rubber flooring that are startlingly slippery, and you’ve got a splash pad that isn’t as fun as it should be.

The playground! Yeah, it’s okay. There are lots of rope elements, some swings and a spinner, but the problem is more with those trees. The park has many of them, but none are there to shade the play structures. Go on a hot day (as we did) and you’ll get so hot you’ll almost (almost) be ready to cool off in a pressure washer. Oh, and there are no monkey bars. This might not be an issue for me, but for my daughter it was almost a deal-breaker.

There are still some positives to this place. There are some shaded picnic tables, some surprisingly comfortable chairs bolted in place in the shade next to the splash pad, and some tennis courts (albeit with pathetically sagging nets) and baseball fields. One of the bigger baseball fields has a clubhouse in behind with some bathrooms, but they’re not quite close enough to the playground to be of use if your kid has an emergency.

For bigger, better equipment, you might want to visit Fountainhead Park just to the north…although as of this writing I haven’t reviewed it yet. But it looks good in pictures, so it’s probably great, right?

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