There’s a beautiful, functional and fun new park in East Village and it has all the signs of being a neighbourhood hub in the years to come.
I went to check out Crossroads for the first time this week and I was literally scampering around the place, I was so excited. “Scampering” is not a thing I do, but this public space is just that cool.
It’s not just a playground and it’s not just a community garden—but it has all those pieces. Crossroads is the kind of place I can see people hanging out, whether it’s with their kids, their trowel or when they need a break from being a grownup for a few minutes.
There are 88 garden plots, all raised beds, including many wheelchair accessible plots. The garden program will start up next year, because, y’know, winter. And next spring a little apple orchard will be planted.
I’m crossing my fingers that I get a plot come springtime. Maybe this is my year to keep a plant alive?
One of the most striking features of the space is the trio of 10-foot shipping containers. One of them will be a garden shed. All of them are built to weather naturally through the years.
Their design is inspired by the train yards and tracks that occupied East Village in decades past. (I’m finding many artistic flourishes in the neighbourhood are influenced by EV’s past. There’s a sculpture in the lobby of FIRST made up of industrial odds and ends the artist reclaimed during the more recent renaissance of the neighbourhood.)
While the sheds can stop people in their tracks, the playground may be what brings people into the neighbourhood. (Though, word around my condo building is the place has already been thoroughly loved by a pair of kids who live here.)
First, a big bonus: there’s loads of bike parking here. The park is just off the RiverWalk (you can see it if you’re travelling southbound on St. Patrick’s Bridge). Perfect for locals and families riding in from other neighbourhoods.
And the play equipment? Good old-fashioned fun but in a 2015 way. It's more than the typical "climb up, climb down" stuff, with loads of rope netting (horizontal and vertical) for all kinds of creative play.
It’s not a traditional playground, and I’m guessing the extra touches like the xylophone (which sounds pleasant and melodic, not tinny or clunky) and these surprising wobble-boards will keep little ones entertained. Or big ones… who needs a gym pass?
Also, it’s a bit hard to tell with the snow there, but the rubber ground (the bouncy stuff that is rather nicer to fall on than the gravel I remember from my days playing Grounders) is coloured! There are swaths of yellow, blue and green. If you’ve got a creative kid on your hands, they might see it as mountains, water and land. To me, it’ll always be “lava”.