Green Room

Say, why is there crime-scene tape wrapped around a playground attraction?

posted at 5:51 pm on January 31, 2013 by

Better yet, why will Fairfax County, Virginia spend $135,000 to trash a $35,000 gift from the PTA?  Rest assured … it’s for the children:

The playground structure is brand new and a child’s dream: Soaring metal beams and a tantalizing spiderweb of climbing net. It sits outside Stratford Landing Elementary School, but all the students can do is stare at it from afar.

Behind the yellow caution tape fettering the apparatus is what parents describe as reams of bureaucratic red tape threatening the equipment, which was built with $35,000 from countless Parent Teacher Association silent auctions and bake sales.

Although parents worked with the Fairfax County Public Schools facilities department, purchased the equipment, hired a contractor and had the playground ready for recess, the school system suddenly deemed the play equipment too dangerous. Since Nov. 30 it has been off-limits, say parents.

Never mind that the same equipment is installed at more than 1,200 parks and schools across the country, including a public park in Fairfax County.

The school district is taking responsibility for the “miscommunication” that led parents to believe that they could determine for themselves what was safe for their children. Fairfax County says they will fund a replacement for the same climbing system they have installed elswhere, but that will cost taxpayers an extra $135,000 to replace a $35,000 playground attraction:

The facilities department says the new equipment must go. But to make amends, the county is offering to revamp the Stratford Landing playground, using about $135,000 from the county’s coffers.

Why is it costing a hundred thousand dollars more to replace the structure?  Maybe the county would be better off letting the PTA handle the cash instead of the county.

By the way, this is the scary death trap that has FCPS shrieking:

The dark, foreboding sky in the background is a nice touch, no?

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I bet it was installed by non union workers, and the Union is demanding it be demolished and for them to be paid to rebuild it.

portlandon on January 31, 2013 at 5:59 PM

I’m a Californian who has lived all over the state, but Northern Virginia is BY FAR the most left wing place I’ve ever lived.

Nessuno on January 31, 2013 at 6:09 PM

Oooooo! I’ll take it!

Blake on January 31, 2013 at 6:11 PM

What a waste.

BigGator5 on January 31, 2013 at 6:15 PM

The school district is taking responsibility for the “miscommunication” that led parents to believe that they could determine for themselves what was safe for their children.

I can totally see their point of view, I mean, who on earth would let parents determine what’s safe? Only govt officials can know what is safe and what is not safe.

Next thing you know, the parents will be deciding what their children should eat, and send them to school with lunches that they think are healthy for them.

Don’t they know they’re too uneducated to make those decisions? Only government can make the best choices.

rightside on January 31, 2013 at 6:27 PM

How did we grow up in the past? Shouldn’t we all have died in childhood?

rbj on January 31, 2013 at 6:35 PM

I’m a Californian who has lived all over the state, but Northern Virginia is BY FAR the most left wing place I’ve ever lived.

Nessuno on January 31, 2013 at 6:09 PM

Jam-packed w/government people and College students.

S. D. on January 31, 2013 at 6:36 PM

College students.

S. D. on January 31, 2013 at 6:36 PM

Don’t throw us all in there. Some of us are still sane. Well, politically sane at least…

Atlas on January 31, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Heck, the crime scene tape is infinitely more dangerous to a kid than the climbing equipment.

Morons.

hillbillyjim on January 31, 2013 at 6:44 PM

Atlas on January 31, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Some government people are right wing as well, but statistically they skew left.

S. D. on January 31, 2013 at 6:50 PM

It’s black and green and looks scarrrry and dangerous.
It must be eliminated, if we can save just one child’s life…..

dentarthurdent on January 31, 2013 at 6:50 PM

How did we grow up in the past? Shouldn’t we all have died in childhood?

rbj on January 31, 2013 at 6:35 PM

We didn’t. We all died from all those scary and dangerous toys, guns, and activities – like tag, and cops & robbers.
None of us are actually here…..

dentarthurdent on January 31, 2013 at 6:52 PM

None of us are actually here…..

dentarthurdent on January 31, 2013 at 6:52 PM

That explains why I can’t find my car keys.

Flange on January 31, 2013 at 6:58 PM

None of us are actually here…..

dentarthurdent on January 31, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Heh. So I’m just a figment of my imagination?

rbj on January 31, 2013 at 7:02 PM

My kids have fallen from playground equipment that was much scarier than that.
This generation is raising such wimps that we will easily be overrun by
the Chinese & Islamists’s by 2050.

redguy on January 31, 2013 at 7:14 PM

Good on the school district. We really need to ban these military style jungle gyms and high capacity tether ball courts.

JSchuler on January 31, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Never underestimate the stupidity of government and government employees and officials.

woodNfish on January 31, 2013 at 7:29 PM

who on earth would let parents determine what’s safe? Only govt officials can know what is safe and what is not safe.

As a lifelong NoVa resident and mother of a special needs child, I can assure you that the default mode for educators and administrators here is the highest level of arrogance. They’re medical experts too – it only took three years to convince them that my daughter’s pediatric neurologist really wasn’t kidding about all those seizures.

Jackasses all.

mrsknightley on January 31, 2013 at 7:34 PM

“Inadvertently, there may have been insufficient guidance from us,” Tistadt said. “Maybe it was our fault, at least in part. So we are going to be the ones who hold financial responsibility, not the PTA.”

Yeah, “we”, as in the very same taxpayers who raised the money through the PTA fundraising efforts. I’m pretty sure this [CENSORED] won’t be coughing up a dime.

What a flaming [CENSORED].

Bruce MacMahon on January 31, 2013 at 7:46 PM

Holy ****, I went to that school, Stratford Landing Elementary School, back in the 60s!

We played a LOT of dodgeball at recess. Fired off lots of fireworks in our driveways on the 4th of July without any SWAT raids. Times have changed….

kd6rxl on January 31, 2013 at 8:14 PM

When I was a kid, that tape would have drawn me to play on that equipment when the gestapo wasn’t looking, like a moth to a flame…

Fallon on January 31, 2013 at 8:23 PM

LOL! Too funny.
Abolish the Public School System.

RedCrow on January 31, 2013 at 9:30 PM

Here’s a novel idea. Vote all the rats out!!

gregbert on January 31, 2013 at 9:36 PM

Heh. So I’m just a figment of my imagination?

rbj on January 31, 2013 at 7:02 PM

All of us conservatives are figments of the liberals’ imaginations. We all died from all those dangerous things they’re trying to outlaw. They’re just having a bad dream that conflicts with their view of communist utopia.

dentarthurdent on January 31, 2013 at 10:20 PM

When I was a kid, that tape would have drawn me to play on that equipment when the gestapo wasn’t looking, like a moth to a flame…

Fallon on January 31, 2013 at 8:23 PM

I used to play pickup games of football, smear the queer, kill the guy with the ball, and such in wild fields of grass and weeds and rocks. I used to catch frog, turtles, snakes, spiders, and lots of other creepy things by hand and let them crawl on my arms and bite me just for fun. Me and my cousins used to swim and fish in dirty ponds and climb tress with no safety gear……
I guess I must be dead – no way I could have survived a childhood like that….

dentarthurdent on January 31, 2013 at 10:23 PM

The truth is, Fairfax County just wants to grow up and be as liberal as big brother Montgomery County, Maryland across the river.
You remember MoCo. It’s that place where you can’t smoke a cigarette on your own deck if a neighbor complains about it.

Galtian on January 31, 2013 at 10:26 PM

My preschool aged son has played many times on far more complex versions of the playground pictured. The company that makes them does some really cool stuff.

Bunch of pussies.

strictnein on February 1, 2013 at 12:30 AM

School Boards are scared as rabbits by the thought of getting sued. If a kid should fall off and break an arm or leg, or get a concussion, you can bet that there’d be a summons on its way.

You can also bet that the board had been instructed by their liability insurers as to the type of playground equipment they could permit.

When I was in 5th grade there was a patch of ice in the school yard and we began sliding on it for fun. I fell down and got a concussion. It never occurred to my parents to sue the school.

I grew up in an era of climbing trees and building tree houses. Children get hurt all the time falling on skates, bicycles, roller blades, backyard trampolines and skateboards. I don’t think this equipment poses any greater danger than those.

flataffect on February 1, 2013 at 1:15 AM

I used to play pickup games of football, smear the queer, kill the guy with the ball, and such in wild fields of grass and weeds and rocks. I used to catch frog, turtles, snakes, spiders, and lots of other creepy things by hand and let them crawl on my arms and bite me just for fun. Me and my cousins used to swim and fish in dirty ponds and climb tress with no safety gear……

dentarthurdent on January 31, 2013 at 10:23 PM

I actually got Poison Ivy about a half dozen times – and lived to tell the tale. When was the last time you saw a kid with Poison Ivy?

Perhaps the school board should just drop the pretense and buy all the kids lots of padding and a bubble to live in.

School Boards are scared as rabbits by the thought of getting sued. If a kid should fall off and break an arm or leg, or get a concussion, you can bet that there’d be a summons on its way.

flataffect on February 1, 2013 at 1:15 AM

All the more reason to abolish public schools. A privately run school would have its parents sign waivers.

Odysseus on February 1, 2013 at 6:39 AM

As a recreation management professional I can tell you that the most probable cause of this SNAFU is one of three things. Either the school’s insurance company or attorney told them to get rid of it, or it failed to meet some ADA requirement, or someone in the sales/contractor mix was not approved in some political way. That might be a non-union thing. These are the primary factors that drive costs for playground development.

I’d bet ADA is the excuse but that someone else getting in on a sale is also involved. In the past 20 years I have not been to a singe recreation planning meeting or conference where playground ADA requirements was not a primary point of discussion. One things that is hard to understand is that not every piece of play equipment has to be ADA compliant, but a certain percentage of play features must be. This one might have tipped the balance to not have that percentage.Of course a sane person would then add another piece that was ADA compliant to reset the balance.

MikeA on February 1, 2013 at 7:43 AM

Heh. So I’m just a figment of my imagination?

rbj on January 31, 2013 at 7:02 PM

Nope, your are merely a product of a DERANGED imagination.

BigGator5 on February 1, 2013 at 7:47 AM

rbj on January 31, 2013 at 6:35 PM
We didn’t. We all died from all those scary and dangerous toys, guns, and activities – like tag, and cops & robbers.
None of us are actually here…..

dentarthurdent on January 31, 2013 at 6:52 PM

That was good. Beat me to it. I was going to go with the subtle, “we didn’t, you’re dreaming”

But think about it. If the government of today had to okay the Conestogas pushing out west, we’d have never crossed the Mississippi.

hawkdriver on February 1, 2013 at 8:07 AM

Band together a few parents with some ba11s, and a LOT of little kids. Tear that sh1t off, and let the kids play. Call in an anonymous tip to the press, so they will be there to film the cops confront little kids playing. I double dog dare you.

It’s time we took back the country from these pu55ies and their (probable) Union enablers.

Or maybe I’m just a little cranky on a tough Friday. Bastards.

Bigurn on February 1, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Why is it costing a hundred thousand dollars more to replace the structure? Maybe the county would be better off letting the PTA handle the cash instead of the county.

Efficiency is just not in the cards for any government agency or public school system.

Bitter Clinger on February 1, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Fairfax County says they will fund a replacement for the same climbing system they have installed elswhere, but that will cost taxpayers an extra $135,000 to replace a $35,000 playground attraction:

Almost gives you the impression that the county has money that it has earned for itself rather than having taken it from those very same taxpayers who donated to fund the original structure in addition to the taxes they paid to the county. How magnanimous of the county! Using taxpayer money to tear down and replace at 3x the cost what the taxpayers had already constructed.

AZfederalist on February 1, 2013 at 10:49 AM

It’s hard to tell from the photo what might be wrong with it, now.

The most likely problem is the regs, which get revamped and revised frequently or particular interpretations of the regs as applied to specific equipment are made. That there are thousands of these already out there doesn’t mean all that much and frequently means the regs have changed.

Back a decade +/- ago people were building PT timber playgrounds and those were scotched out of an abundance of caution for splinters and kids sucking on the wood. Unfortunately for a neighborhood group for a nearby park, they’d just finished building one of their own accord and with money they’d raised.

My guess is the green posts holding up the far end are in the proximity to a fall which is usually a no-no. Since playground equipment has become so modular and interconnected, other equipment of this particular type that does exist might not be connected to the next piece of equipment with the green posts. Just a guess. Anyway, the $135K replacement cost seems way too high.

Dusty on February 1, 2013 at 10:53 AM

How did we grow up in the past? Shouldn’t we all have died in childhood?

rbj on January 31, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Yes, you should have! And Mother Earth would be better off for it! /lib

high capacity tether ball courts.

JSchuler on January 31, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Tether ball? Dude, I don’t think tether ball has been allowed for at least a decade. It disadvantages short kids, people cry when they get hit with the ball, and there’s deadly things involved – like rope! Catch up with the times, you Neanderthal! /lib

Yeah, “we”, as in the very same taxpayers who raised the money through the PTA fundraising efforts. I’m pretty sure this [CENSORED] won’t be coughing up a dime.

Bruce MacMahon on January 31, 2013 at 7:46 PM

In a just world, the folks who screwed up would be paying out of their own pockets. Wait, in a just world this never would have happened…..

smear the queer

dentarthurdent on January 31, 2013 at 10:23 PM

Uh oh, you’ve done it now……..

But think about it. If the government of today had to okay the Conestogas pushing out west, we’d have never crossed the Mississippi.

hawkdriver on February 1, 2013 at 8:07 AM

No kidding. Not unless there were a watering station every 5 miles, with biodegradable toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

I have experience from 25 years ago with playground equipment stupidity. Our engineering class was assigned to design, resource, and build a playground project. We spent days wrangling over stupid restrictions (some of my classmates subscribed to the “if it saves even one child” philosophy). We wanted to have a teeter-totter bridge – as you walked across it, it would tilt the other way. We realized it couldn’t move very much or the kids couldn’t step on it when their end was raised. However, we soon discovered that if it raised enough for a kid under the bridge to stick his fingers in it we HAD to provide a cover for that space. “Tell the kids not to stick their fingers in there” was an inadequate safety guideline. Our original design had about 9-12 inches of gap – but was nixed because some kid would shove his head in there. “Maybe that kid needs to be wearing a helmet anyway” was NOT appreciated by our instructors.

We wanted to build a plank & rope bridge. The planks had to be so close together it wouldn’t sway (again, someone might reach their fingers through a gap from below and get them stepped on). We also needed to make sure the kids couldn’t slip between the planks and the “railing” rope. It would require a “post” every 10 inches I think it was. We wanted to build a tunnel bridge using some corrugated metal half-pipes. That was disapproved because the adults couldn’t see into it. But, cargo netting – which several of us pointed out had the same problem with kids’ fingers as the see-saw and rope & plank bridges – was approved.

That was my introduction to the world of litigiousness, code, and bureaucratic stupidity.

GWB on February 1, 2013 at 10:57 AM

It’s the Jungle Gym of DOOM!

mojo on February 1, 2013 at 12:00 PM

I’m thinking of the death traps I played on as a kid…and yet survived.

Bob's Kid on February 1, 2013 at 12:12 PM

I used to catch frog, turtles, snakes, spiders, and lots of other creepy things by hand and let them crawl on my arms and bite me just for fun. Me and my cousins used to swim and fish in dirty ponds and climb tress with no safety gear……

I guess I must be dead – no way I could have survived a childhood like that….

dentarthurdent on January 31, 2013 at 10:23 PM

I did a lot of that stuff, too, and I’m a girl! I used to touch stinging nettles leaves to watch the bump rise. Anyone remember jumping off a teeter totter to jar the other person? Now, that was fun. “C’mon, let’s go over to the teeter totter. I promise I won’t jump off again… sucker.”

Fallon on February 1, 2013 at 12:30 PM