September 9, 2010 3:14 PM
Yesterday I got a chance to do one of the truly fun things in this job, which is to simply be invited to be in the right place at the right time.
The time and place was the official opening of the new playground at Olive Jones Park next to Randall Elementary School. The park is heavily used by the kids at the school, but it has been an orphan in the park system to some extent because it looks as if it's a school playground when in fact it belongs to the city.
Enter a lot of generous neighbors and good corporate citizens, add the leadership of rookie fifth district Alder Shiva Bidar-Sielaff and you get a solution. Over $100,000 was raised privately to add state-of-the-kid play equipment and that squishy new surface that we didn't have back in my day when we were happy with an airless old basketball and some discarded tires. Also, I walked to school through snow drifts over my head.
But I digress. The project is another example of the kid-friendly nature of our community. This summer we opened a great new Children's Museum where the museum folks tell me that in their first week they attracted 13,000 visitors. That's 2,000 more than they ever attracted in an entire month in the old place. And Men's Health magazine just rated us the only city in the nation that deserved an A+ rating for kids' safety.
Kids are certainly safer on the fun, creative but forgiving play equipment and surface installed at Olive Jones this summer. Am I bitter that we didn't have this kind of stuff when I was eight years old? Yes, I am. But I'll get over it. Congratulations to Shiva, fundraising chair Alison Alter, principal John Wallace, Group Health Cooperative , Meriter, MGE Foundation, Ray-O-Vac, UW Hospitals and Clinics, Regent Neighborhood Association, over 200 individual and family donors and everyone who made this possible.