Report and Recommendations for the Locomotive at Dennis the Menace Park by mcherald

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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 that
has been enjoyed by residents and visitors to Monterey since it was located in
the park in 1956. The grassroots support to maintain Engine 1285 as an
attraction in the park is very strong.
The challenge is to find a way to retain the structure and address the safety
and accessibility requirements that protect people from injury and allow people
with and without disabilities to enjoy this historic resource.
On December 5, 2012, MIG licensed landscape architects including a Certified
Playground Safety Inspector, and a California Division of the State Architect
Certified Access Specialist (CASp) with combined 60 years of playground design
experience visited the steam train and met with representatives from the City
of Monterey and Save the Train representatives to review the existing
conditions 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 sand
surfacing near the entrance of the park. Sand is not an accessible surfacing
and does not accommodate people who use wheelchairs, canes, walkers or
other mobility devices. Sand surfacing prevents a child with mobility
impairment from approaching the train to see the intricate mechanical
structures and prevents a disabled parent or caregiver from coming to the aid
of an able bodied child.
The train engine cab is reached by a stairway that does not meet current state
or federal accessibility codes for either an exterior stair or a play structure. A
stairway also prevents access by people who use mobility devices such as
scooters and wheelchairs.
Because the steam train is located in a playground, and climbing on the train
had been expected and encouraged until recently, the accessibility standards
for Play Areas and Play Components contained in the American’s with
Disabilities 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 the
definition of the train from a play component to an historical interpretive exhibit
and justify the application of the 2012 ADA Standards for Accessible Design for
elements other than play areas.
Regardless of the definition of the train as either a play component or a
historical interpretive display, safety and access must be addressed. This issue
must be considered and addressed by legal counsel.
Using the standards found in the playground safety legislation enacted by the
State of California, the steam train contains many opportunities for injury.
       Head entrapment, whereby the small body of a child passes feet first
        through an opening only to have the head fails to pass through can cause
        strangulation and death.
       Protruding features, if fallen on or against, can cause serious injury to
        eyes 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 to
        protect someone from serious injury in case of a fall from an elevated
       The railings currently along the top and sides of the train do not provide
        adequate safety or protection for children or adults who are encouraged
        to venture out onto these elements.

Recommendations and Options

Access to the Engine Compartment:
Option 1: If the steam train is deemed to be a play component, the standards
for play areas contained in the ADA allow the use of a transfer system to
provide access to elevated play components in the engine compartment.
Similar to a composite play structure found in many parks including Dennis the
Menace Park, a transfer system consists of a platform that allows a person to
transfer from a wheelchair to the transfer platform and pull themselves up a
series of steps to access an elevated deck. Such a system would allow a person

Dennis the Menace Park Steam Train                                                   page 2
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 the
engine compartment. This option requires very significant modification to the
train 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 with
access to specific train components including the engine compartment, an
accessible 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 the
existing fence but would provide better visual access to the entire side of the
train from the playground side. Building the ramp on the playground side of the
train, 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 mechanical
structures is desirable, but care must be taken to prevent injury. A fence, close
to the train, is recommended to prevent access to most of the train. Several
locations at the side of the train may be able to be modified to eliminate safety
hazards. An accessible surfacing material must replace the sand in these
locations so that people with mobility impairment can approach and touch the
Other Play Options:
Climbing on the train itself is not recommended. Access to the engine
compartment only, modifying or protecting the interior components of the
compartment and the elimination of climbing must be considered as a strategy
to maintain a level of contact with the train and to improve safety.
Providing other train related play opportunities that do not currently exist in the
park may be a way of renewing the experience of the steam train days, and
provide children with a hands-on play opportunity.
Examples are:
       Install a train station/ticket booth adjacent to the train. This would add a
        social and dramatic play opportunity that would be available to children
        who can not or may not wish to approach the stream train.
       Install a hand cart or other train equipment that has been modified to
        eliminate safety hazards.

Dennis the Menace Park Steam Train                                                 page 3
Existing Conditions

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Conceptual Design

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Existing Stairs to Engine Compartment

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Engine Compartment

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Train Mechanical Components

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Existing Warning Sign

Following our site visit and discussion with City staff, our opinion is that with
legal advice, careful design, management, and maintenance the steam train
can potentially remain a vital part of Dennis the Menace Park.

MIG, Inc.
Timothy A. Gilbert, RLA, ICC, ASLA, CASp
Tod Hara, RLA, CPSI

Dennis the Menace Park Steam Train                                                  page 9

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