Berkeley’s Adventure Playground, down at the Marina, is one of the city’s gems. If you have kids and don’t know about it, you must rectify that experience gap as soon as possible.

Not quite immediately though, for the playground has been closed between December 21 and January 1 for budgetary reasons.

Should this temporary closure be a sign that the playground is in any way under threat, this is serious news and Berkeley citizens should take action to ensure the playground’s survival.

The playground, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, must count as one of the most exciting places imaginable for children. When I first discovered it with my two boys I could hardly believe such a place existed.

At the playground kids as young as 7 are given tools – real adult-sized saws, hammers, nails and paint – and let loose, with minimal adult supervision, to create the environment of their dreams. Institutions, including the Discovery Museum and the Exploratorium, send staff to this magical place simply to observe how real “live” kids play. Has it come to this? Adults need to study children playing? A sorry state of affairs.

The playground has been voted a top 10 playground in National Geographic. It was voted the Best Creative Play space in Diablo Magazine and Newsweek rated as one of the Top 5 play spaces in the country.

At a time when many of us are fighting to get our kids off the sofa and into the great outdoors, let’s be sure to patronize this wonderful place and help Berkeley hold on to this valuable asset.

Update (12.30.09): According to Denise Brown, Recreation Program Supervisor for the City of Berkeley, we have no need to worry about the future of the Adventure Playground. “It’s not going anywhere,” she says. The closures are standard at this time of year, she adds, because traditionally attendance is low and the weather is poor. “It’s a low-impact way of making some cost savings,” Brown says.

[Photo: City of Berkeley.]

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...