At Patapsco, old tires give way to new playground

March 27, 1994|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Sun Staff Writer

Imagine the barn-raising sequence from "Witness" or "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers."

Now imagine it with 4,000 old tires.

That was the scene yesterday in Patapsco Valley State Park as more than 200 volunteers built a playground, working from designs developed by the New Hampshire-based Learning Structures Inc.

The project -- a cooperative effort by the Maryland Environmental Service, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of the Environment -- features familiar shapes, such as crabs and battleships, rendered with scrap tires and lumber.

Learning Structures has developed more than 300 playgrounds, including projects in Owings Mills and Towson, in this fashion during the past 19 years, said Rod Hoyt, one of its six coordinators.

But, while Learning Structures makes the designs, the playgrounds are dependent on volunteer labor.

By 8 a.m. yesterday, the Hilton area of the state park, near Rolling Road in southwest Baltimore County, was swarming with volunteers of all ages and skill levels. Within hours, the playground had begun taking shape in the wooded area. "You can do anything with a good attitude," Mr. Hoyt said. "These volunteers have been amazing."

One of the youngest was Isaac Wilding, 9, from Millersville. He was digging holes and packing mud for what would be the "Wobbly Track" -- a boardwalk set on tires, allowing it to bend and move.

"I think it will be a good playground," said Isaac, who has a lot of playground experience.

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