Variable Interest

At the early stages of planning a new playground–before actually starting a concept design or examining budget estimates–it is important to develop a checklist of the information needed to make the big decisions for construction. Although the size and capacity of the playground can be included in this checklist, each item should be based on attendance rather than the common design parameters of available land and the amount of money to be spent. The attraction of each piece of equipment and the playground competition that exists down the street also should be examined. What is needed is a focused feasibility study.

As the name implies, a feasibility study is an analysis of the viability of an idea:

• Is the project financially feasible?

• Is there enough land available to build the designed project?

• Is it in the right location?

• Is there enough money to build and maintain the project?

• Will it be well attended?

• How large does it need to be?

• What equipment should be selected?

Market Population And Penetration Rates

While accurate playground-attendance projection models are difficult to find, they do exist, or can be calculated after conducting some research. Basic resident population numbers and demographics are easy to obtain from the U.S. Census Bureau; ongoing feasibility studies from city planners as well as data collected from retail and other development companies also may be available. However, interpreting these numbers into accurate penetration forecasts of the number of children, their ages and the time of day they will visit a playground can be challenging. Projection models may be available from local city and state parks and recreation departments as well as from land developers that have taken accurate attendance numbers from “tot lots” they have built in residential developments. Local universities and schools may already have this information or be willing to assist in determining these models. Additionally, local playground sales representatives or a facility design company may be asked to assist in this research.

To get started, define the market area in terms of miles of radii by segmenting the market area into distance bands (i.e., zero to one mile, two to three miles, four to five miles, etc.). One can expect up to a 50-percent reduction in penetration rate more than two miles from the playground, which is called distance-delay factor. Segmenting the market is important because it allows for adjustments in the market-penetration rates according to distance. Thus, the population in the zero-to-one-mile band would be assigned a higher penetration rate than one in a more distant band.

Attendance Capacity Requirements

Two different capacity requirements must be determined:

• Design period or design-hour capacity

• Through-put capacity.

The design-hour capacity is determined by a market study. It is one of the major design guidelines, and helps to determine equipment choices as well as the layout of the playground.

This process involves identifying the park’s peak month of attendance (usually July) and estimating attendance for that month (usually 30 to 35 percent of annual attendance, depending on local weather conditions). Then, attendance for the peak month is converted to average weekly attendance, usually by dividing monthly attendance by 4.43, the number of weeks in July. Next, peak-day attendance is estimated. The experience of existing parks has revealed that the peak day–usually Saturday–will account for 25 to 30 percent of weekly attendance. Finally, design-hour attendance is calculated.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. A Place By The Same Name
  2. Playground Safety Is No Accident
  3. Playground Contest
  4. Ohio City Wins Playground Contest
  5. Creating Chemistry
  • Columns
  • Departments