--Brian Chilson photo
City Director Dean Kumpuris (center) and Peabody Hotel general manager Gregg Herning (left) were among those on hand today at Riverfront Park for a press conference announcing details of new development there -- most notably the new playground complex. The Peabody Hotel donated $250,000 for the project, and honored Kumpuris as the second recipient of their “Duck Walk of Fame” award for his civic service.
Kumpuris, who has spearheaded efforts to revitalize RiverfrontP ark over the last decade, said that original plans for the new playground called for normal playground equipment – slides and swings. He said it was decided the park should be more free-form with more greenspace after he read the book “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” by child play advocate Richard Louv. After consulting with the Little Rock Parks Department, local architects and children, the final plan for the playground now includes a motion-activated spray fountain, a complex of underground tunnels and rooms, a large circular lawn, man-made hills, and climbing walls.
“Because of that book, we came up with a very different type of playground,” Kumpuris said. “A park has to be a place where you can skin your knee… it has to be safe, but there has to be adventure in it.”
COINCIDENTALLY: Last week, the Times carried a brief item about how the city eventually decided, in the name of health, to choose a design for the fountain that used the most water among the options studied. Find the item at the bottom of this link. Today, I received a lengthy letter objecting to the city's decision from Mark Robertson, a landscape architect. Read it here.
Read an excerpt from “Last Child in the Woods.”
Webpage featuring columns by Richard Louv.