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BEST USE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS Minneapolis 2004 - new playground equipment

We're completely, hopelessly, irretrievably smitten with the new playground equipment that's popped up, a few parks at a time, throughout Minneapolis over the last three springs. Because most of the city's play equipment was old and far from meeting current safety standards, in 2002 the Minneapolis Park Board began replacing the chipping, creaking wooden climbers and aluminum swing-sets. Although each playground design varies, depending on individual parks' layouts and the imaginations of the Park Board's five landscape architects, pretty much all of the tot lots we've visited boast sprawling, colorful, fantastical enameled steel structures for big kids, less challenging climbers for the pre-K set, and swing-sets able to accommodate the disabled. There's also an array of outlying climbing nets, new-age seesaws, and flume-like slides. Oh, and parapets, canopies, pirate ships, and endless escape hatches. Even grown-ups can't seem to resist clambering around like a batch of amped-up five-year-olds. We've met more of our neighbors since the equipment went in at our park than we have during years of block club meetings and National Nights Out. Talk about a relatively small investment of tax dollars that has a big impact on the quality of life in our fair cities: better living through jungle gyms.

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