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Middlebury's Pop-Up Park 

click to enlarge Joni plays with the wooden spools - MEGAN JAMES
  • MEgan JAmes
  • Joni plays with the wooden spools

Address: 20 Main Street, Middlebury

I'm new to the playground scene. My 15-month-old daughter, Joni, has just started walking. Most climbing equipment is too advanced for her, and she's not a fan of infant swings. But she loves slides and stairs. So we were thrilled to discover a new pop-up park in downtown Middlebury.

click to enlarge MEGAN JAMES
  • MEgan JAmes

A team of architecture students from the University of Vermont and Middlebury College conceived and built the temporary park this spring. It's on the site of the former Lazarus building, which was torn down in January to make room for an upcoming reconstruction of the railroad overpass. The students used recycled materials to build simple climbing structures, a slide, skate ramps and planters. In early June, the park opened to the public.

Since then, Joni and I have spent many mornings circling the little slide. It's only about four feet high — close enough to the ground that she can easily climb the ladder up to it, and I can feel comfortable letting her go down by herself.

The park will only be there until next spring, though, so enjoy it now!

Pluses

  • The slide is perfectly sized for wobbly toddlers.
  • Funky, recycled materials (rustic wooden climbing ramps fastened to big wooden spools) give the park an edgy, adventure-playground feel.
  • Skate ramps for bigger kids
  • A woodchip ground cover softens inevitable face plants.

Minuses

  • No swings
  • There are gnarly holes in some surfaces; be careful!
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