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Monterey Train Report

Monterey Train Report

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Published by Amy Larson

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Published by: Amy Larson on Jan 07, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Dennis the Menace Park Steam Train
28 December 2012 
The 1924 Steam Train at Dennis the Menace Park is a beloved structure thathas been enjoyed by residents and visitors to Monterey since it was located inthe park in 1956. The grassroots support to maintain Engine 1285 as anattraction in the park is very strong.The challenge is to find a way to retain the structure and address the safetyand accessibility requirements that protect people from injury and allow peoplewith and without disabilities to enjoy this historic resource.On December 5, 2012, MIG licensed landscape architects including a CertifiedPlayground Safety Inspector, and a California Division of the State ArchitectCertified Access Specialist (CASp) with combined 60 years of playground designexperience visited the steam train and met with representatives from the Cityof Monterey and Save the Train representatives to review the existingconditions and to discuss options for retaining the train while addressing safety,accessibility, and play value.
Currently, the steam train is situated on a section of railroad track in sandsurfacing near the entrance of the park. Sand is not an accessible surfacingand does not accommodate people who use wheelchairs, canes, walkers orother mobility devices. Sand surfacing prevents a child with mobilityimpairment from approaching the train to see the intricate mechanicalstructures and prevents a disabled parent or caregiver from coming to the aidof an able bodied child.The train engine cab is reached by a stairway that does not meet current stateor federal accessibility codes for either an exterior stair or a play structure. Astairway also prevents access by people who use mobility devices such asscooters and wheelchairs.Because the steam train is located in a playground, and climbing on the trainhad been expected and encouraged until recently, the accessibility standardsfor Play Areas and Play Components contained in the American’s withDisabilities Act (ADA), a federal civil rights law, were the appropriate standard.
Dennis the Menace Park Steam Train page 1
 Modifying the steam train to prevent climbing may effectively change thedefinition of the train from a play component to an historical interpretive exhibitand justify the application of the 2012 ADA Standards for Accessible Design forelements other than play areas.Regardless of the definition of the train as either a play component or ahistorical interpretive display, safety and access must be addressed. This issuemust be considered and addressed by legal counsel.
Using the standards found in the playground safety legislation enacted by theState of California, the steam train contains many opportunities for injury.
Head entrapment, whereby the small body of a child passes feet firstthrough an opening only to have the head fails to pass through can causestrangulation and death.
Protruding features, if fallen on or against, can cause serious injury toeyes and other body parts.
Vertical angles formed by exposed mechanical parts can entrap heads,necks, or clothing parts and may cause strangulation.
The height of the train exceeds the capacity of the sand surfacing toprotect someone from serious injury in case of a fall from an elevatedplatform.
The railings currently along the top and sides of the train do not provideadequate safety or protection for children or adults who are encouragedto venture out onto these elements.
Recommendations and OptionsAccess to the Engine Compartment:
Option 1: If the steam train is deemed to be a play component, the standardsfor play areas contained in the ADA allow the use of a transfer system toprovide access to elevated play components in the engine compartment.Similar to a composite play structure found in many parks including Dennis theMenace Park, a transfer system consists of a platform that allows a person totransfer from a wheelchair to the transfer platform and pull themselves up aseries of steps to access an elevated deck. Such a system would allow a person
Dennis the Menace Park Steam Train page
 to enter and sit on the floor of the engine compartment. The transfer steps,with handrails, would also comprise a usable stairway for others to access theengine compartment. This option requires very significant modification to thetrain in order to prevent climbing and the removal of all safety hazards.Option 2: If the train is deemed to be a historical interpretive display withaccess to specific train components including the engine compartment, anaccessible ramp is required. The ramp could be built on either side of the train.Building it on the parking lot side of the train would require relocating theexisting fence but would provide better visual access to the entire side of thetrain from the playground side. Building the ramp on the playground side of thetrain, it would be contained within the existing footprint of the train area.
Access to the Ground Level Components of the Train:
The mechanical structures at the ground level of the train are intricate,massive, and fascinating. Being able to approach and touch these mechanicalstructures is desirable, but care must be taken to prevent injury. A fence, closeto the train, is recommended to prevent access to most of the train. Severallocations at the side of the train may be able to be modified to eliminate safetyhazards. An accessible surfacing material must replace the sand in theselocations so that people with mobility impairment can approach and touch thetrain.
Other Play Options:
Climbing on the train itself is not recommended. Access to the enginecompartment only, modifying or protecting the interior components of thecompartment and the elimination of climbing must be considered as a strategyto maintain a level of contact with the train and to improve safety.Providing other train related play opportunities that do not currently exist in thepark may be a way of renewing the experience of the steam train days, andprovide children with a hands-on play opportunity.Examples are:
Install a train station/ticket booth adjacent to the train. This would add asocial and dramatic play opportunity that would be available to childrenwho can not or may not wish to approach the stream train.
Install a hand cart or other train equipment that has been modified toeliminate safety hazards.
Dennis the Menace Park Steam Train page

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