Playground safety in question

By Grace Moore

At the council meeting on Monday night, Judi Just of the Local Government Liability Pool (LGLP) asked for a report on the progress of requested repairs to many aspects of the municipal playgrounds. She and another agent, Christy Skinner, had walked through the town’s playgrounds last year and formulated a list of needed corrections and maintenance issues.

After that inspection, Just voiced her first thought of completely ridding the town’s parks of the older equipment and starting over from the green space as the town can afford new equipment. However, “I know that’s not something that you really want to do.”

With many municipalities in the state, Just stated that the LGLP has been focusing on playgrounds for several years because, “in other parts of the country, playground injuries are skyrocketing and a lot of public entities are doing away with playgrounds and that is sad”.

However, recognizing the cost of such a venture, Just advised Moorcroft to begin frequent regular inspections of all town-owned parks. Any signs of wear or unsafe conditions are to be corrected immediately.

These inspections are currently being conducted by Public Works Director Cory Allison and his crew; however, Just suggested that Moorcroft find or certify a qualified inspector.

A few of the unsafe conditions the LGLP representatives listed for the maintenance crews to fix as soon as possible were the sharp wood parts and nails and other issues on the wooden play set at Robinson’s that was fixed during last summer; the swing set that had a fracture in one of the poles; sharp edges on the chain link gate; and the splintering wood and metal on the picnic tables.

Westview Park was not inspected as the ground was too muddy.

At Noonan Park, the agents recommended the removal of the off balance, damaged merry-go-round; all hoses on the grass be picked up after watering and “put up”; replace or repair all chain link fence and gates. The park to the south of Texas Trails Subdivision was cited for the unsecured area around the school’s construction site of the shelter; standing water; sharp wood and metal.

Allison has fixed many of the outstanding issues, but there are a few more that must be addressed in the spring, he said. “We’ve got, I’d say, 80 percent of it done, all the major things,” he told the council.