MANCHESTER, NH – Kids were swarming the newly installed playground equipment on Friday at Rock Rimmon Park – kids or all shapes and sizes were gliding and climbing and sliding and running. They were stacked three deep waiting for a chance to try out the track-glider, taking turns on swings, and having some good-old human-kid-powered fun.
The project was constructed over the past few weeks, and is a welcome addition to the woodsy West Side corner nestled along Rock Rimmon. The playground equipment, manufactured by Landscape Structures, is part of the city’s ongoing revitalization of the West Side, and is now the largest playground in the city with all new equipment, said Parks and Rec Director Don Pinard. It was funded with $150,000 in Community Improvement Program funds in the 2018 budget.
Ricardo Rivera, 24, who grew up in the neighborhood, was letting the playground entertain his kids while he and fellow dad, Nicky Castro, and their non-dad friend, Marcus Monroe, played some basketball.
“I give it a 10,” says Rivera of the playground. “I’ve played here my whole life, since I was 5 years old. When we were little we’d come here and play in the forest. Now, they need stuff like this to keep their attention – lure them in, because everything else is so busy all the time – and we can shoot some hoops.”
He and Monroe grew up together here. Castro joined the neighborhood basketball crowd about five years ago, a transplant from Boston, who’s lived on the West Side for about 10 years now.
Castro, who was there with his three kids, ages 11, 8 and 6, says he can see the city is on the upswing.
“As a father, I’m very happy about the park. They did a good job with it – and for a week, my kids got to play in the dirt while they were getting it ready,” Castro says. “When we first started coming here you had to walk through and catch the needles, clean them up. I feel there’s an upward trend going on now. My wife has been here since she was little, that’s why we moved here. It’s very clean now. You don’t find needles. That’s the best part about it.”
Next to the playground are newly-upgraded pickleball and tennis courts, and beyond that, the Dupont Splash Pad, which was installed in 2016.
The dads were thrilled to learn that their basketball court was on the list for Phase II of Rock Rimmon revitalization.
“That’s great to hear. This court is 15 years past due for an upgrade,” says Rivera, lifting his son up on his shoulders to point to the place in the backboard where the bolts are missing, making for a wobbly net.
They have been doing what they can to keep their court in working order, says Rivera.
“We shovel it in the winter,” says Castro.
They don’t bother with the other hoop on the far side of the court. “It’s too short. It’s always been weird like that,” says Rivera.
They said they’ve created the Rimmon Ball Facebook group where they can go to find people interested in a pick-up game – or to help shovel in winter.