‘Fun-expected consequences’ at city park’s makeshift sliding hill


Johnson City resurfacing ‘cardboard cruising’ slope at new park after sliders nearly love it to death – sliding prohibited

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Faith Gibson felt forlorn Monday as she saw workers placing black rubber on a slope at King Commons Park that she and her sisters had grown to love for the perfect ride it provided on broken down cardboard boxes.

A typical scene at the King Commons Park playground prior to the synthetic turf removal. Turf damage can be seen in the upper right area of the turf.

“I think all the kids really liked it, because they were like screaming and laughing with cardboard boxes, and they were going really fast down,” said the 8-year-old, who will start third grade next month.

“We had a lot of fun there.”

A contractor replacing the springy green “fake grass,” as Gibson called it, told News Channel 11 the new turf is more durable and designed for sliding.

Faith Gibson describes the popularity of the King Commons “sliding hill.”

Hearing that unofficial news lifted Gibson’s spirits — and those of her mom Rosanna. Rosanna Gibson said the playground has become a favorite spot for the family of five that includes sisters Annabelle, 10 and Adeline, 6.

“I felt happy,” Faith said about hearing the turf was going back in. She said she’d been worried the favorite activity would disappear from the park’s menu of options. “Because all the other kids get to do it, and me — and my sisters.”

Faith Gibson

“It’s so convenient,” Rosanna Gibbons said of the space. “They can play while we watch them and listen to music during Fridays After Five (a warm-weather outdoor concert series). It’s a very simple playground and that’s why we enjoy it.”

But News Channel 11 learned later Monday that Faith and her sisters will be violating park rules if they take to the slopes again once the new turf is installed.

“Cardboard will not be allowed,” Johnson City spokeswoman Ann Marie French said after checking with Parks and Recreation Monday.

French said a sign prohibits the usage already, though it was hard to pass by the park on a nice day and not see groups of kids clambering up the slope and zipping down time after time.

“I think the playground was really fun when there was fake grass,” Faith said. “I probably went really fast down it, because I could see like, me zooming down and all the kids doing it.”

This sign’s final bullet point spells out the sliding policy unequivocally.

But while they may not have known it, sliders had been violating posted rules for awhile, at least according to a sign posted outside the bathrooms that leaves no doubt with its final bullet point — “No sliding allowed on the synthetic turf surfaces.”

French said the sign was placed there sometime in late May.

Rosanna Gibson said her girls enjoy other aspects of the interactive park, including the excellent quality percussion equipment and climbing logs. But she said the sliding was a definite hit.

There was no word from the city on planned enforcement.

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