City celebrates opening of new Jacobson Park playground

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 2, 2016) – Lexington officially opened a new playground at Jacobson Park Wednesday, and judging from the reviews it’s already receiving from local experts ... children of all ages … it’s a success.

“Great cities have great parks, and this playground is a great addition to Lexington’s parks,” Mayor Jim Gray said.

Lexington’s largest and most accessible playground is also the first to offer a play area for children under age 2. It features a “natural play” area, with native limestone boulders, logs from a 200-year-old burr oak the city lost to disease earlier this year, a monarch waystation garden, and opportunities for scavenger hunts

The new playground replaces a wooden playground that had become unsafe and could not be used by many children with physical disabilities.

“I am proud of the commitment of the Lexington Parks & Recreation department in creating a playground that is inclusive for everyone,” said Councilmember Jennifer Scutchfield, who was a champion for the project, securing additional funds during budget negotiations.

The playground was designed by Element, a Lexington landscape architecture firm.

The city is still putting on the finishing touches. And next year there are plans for a stream to play in, and a sprayground.

Livestream public art installation

One special feature of the playground is Livestream, a nearby art installation. 

Livestream combines art, music, science, and technology to educate children about the importance of groundwater. 

“By experiencing the world around and specifically under us, through both sound and sight, Livestream will engage people in a way few public art projects do and will make an impact in a very immediate way," said Ellen A. Plummer, president and CEO of LexArts.

Livestream uses a series of pipes to translate groundwater data into sounds. Data points are generated from the groundwater’s conductivity, temperature and flow. Each data point corresponds to a pre-recorded sound composed by Kentucky musician Ben Sollee.

The volume increases and decreases as children move closer and then away from the pipes.

Livestream was created by the Public Works Collaborative including founder and designer, Kiersten Nash; musician, Ben Sollee; engineer, Sean Montgomery; public artist, Bland Hoke; educator, Dan Marwit; and fabricator, Jon Pope.

The project was commissioned by LexArts and city’s Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works, and funded in-part by a $40,000 National Endowment for the Arts ART WORKS grant. The Kentucky Geological Survey was also a partner in the project. 

Companies, organizations or groups interested in helping with future phases of the new Jacobson Park playground are encouraged to contact Parks & Recreation at (859) 288-2900.

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Child plays on swing at Jacobson Park's new playground