Pandemonium over park play set

By Grace Moore

An emergency meeting was called Monday for the governing body as a whole to veto an order Moorcroft Mayor Steve Sproul had given Public Works Director Cory Allison ear

lier in the day regarding the wooden play set at Robinson Park.

Vandals tore a slide and ladder away from their moorings over the weekend and, after the mayor examined the damage, he sent in a work order to public works not to fix the structure, but to tear it down. However, Allison told his crew to repair the damage instead and contacted the rest of the governing body to ascertain the majority’s opinion on removing the equipment.

The four councilmen unanimously told him to leave the structure standing. Sproul then ordered the town crew to meet him at the park at 6 a.m. Tuesday to remove the play set.

Grace Moore photos
Margaret Lynch forcefully addresses the council during a meeting that saw high levels of friction.

 

Scheduled to start at 7 p.m., the tone for the meeting was set as the mayor refused to bring it to order before allowing discussion from the floor. When this deviation from procedure was admonished by fellow Council Member Owen Mathews, Sproul stated, “No, let’s discuss it right now Owen, to see if it rises to the standard of a meeting.”

Mathews continued to reprimand the mayor for not calling the official meeting to order before conducting the business at hand to no avail. “You’re trying to subvert the process,” he said.

The mayor eventually brought the emergency meeting to order approximately 20 minutes after the published time. He stated the cause for the meeting as the tearing down of the “jungle gym” maintaining his position, “I want to keep our kids safe.” He also opined that the swing set is dangerous.

Councilman Dick Claar explained that the damage caused by the vandals to the play set at Robinson’s Park was fixed that morning and said, “I see no reason to tear that down.”

Mathews further clarified the situation that necessitated the emergency meeting.

“This meeting is about you directing our staff to tear down something. This is to make it official that that action is not happening. I went and looked at it, climbed on it…This is an individual desire of yours, not a desire of the council; we’ve looked at it and its stable,” he said.

Sproul made note that another slide on the same piece of equipment is loose and Mathews admitted that the bolts need to be tightened. He also admonished Allison for removing the caution tape from around the damaged structure after the repairs was made, saying that Allison was not authorized to do so.

“You removed the tape without permission; I believe that’s a crime Cory,” he said. The mayor later had Chief of Police re-tape the play-set. “We went down and re-taped it for public safety,” he said.

Mathews made the motion to maintain the playground equipment at Robinson Park and not tear it down, with a second from Claar. Sproul then allowed the audience to weigh in and, when Councilman Ben Glenn called for the vote repeatedly, saying, “This is ridiculous”, the mayor ignored him.

Members of the audience became verbally aggressive toward each other. One individual, Margaret “Babe” Lynch, was publicly warned by the police officer present to step back from their encroachment into Johnnie Faye Claar’s personal space as they sparred.

Condemnations were tossed back and forth at the bench while the pandemonium reined. After several minutes of chaos, hostilities calmed and the vote was taken; the playground equipment will remain for the time being.

A special meeting will be held Wednesday night, May 9, at 7 p.m. to confirm the decision made.