Fulton park crews remove unsafe playground equipment

Fulton’s city work crews began dismantling a playground Wednesday in Veterans Park near the southwest corner of 10th and Wood streets. Parts of a slide loaded on the truck’s trailer came from the blue slide framework at left. Safety issues with playground equipment prompted the Fulton City Council to order the playground closed.

Fulton’s city work crews began dismantling a playground Wednesday in Veterans Park near the southwest corner of 10th and Wood streets. Parts of a slide loaded on the truck’s trailer came from the blue slide framework at left. Safety issues with playground equipment prompted the Fulton City Council to order the playground closed. Photo by Don Norfleet.

Workmen began dismantling playground equipment in Fulton’s Veterans Park after much of the play area was deemed unsafe.

The Fulton City Council voted Tuesday to immediately close the Kiddy Corral, or “orange park.”

Six pieces of equipment have been cited over the past nine years for safety infractions by the Missouri Intergovernmental Risk Management Association (MIRMA).

MIRMA currently has made nine recommendations for the playground, citing 42 to 45 pieces that pose safety hazards.

Hazards included head entrapment areas such as space between bars on railings and ladders in which a child’s head or neck could become stuck, openings not totally enclosed by boundaries on all sides, repairs to the fence around the park and improvements to the playground surface.

Of the equipment there, only one piece —  the monkey bars — currently hold no safety issues, said Clay Caswell, Fulton Parks and Recreation Department director. The rest no longer meets federal safety guidelines. He said the city’s insurance consultants in recent years have made compliance recommendations based on the federal safety guidelines.

Replacing the current equipment with something equal to what is now there, Caswell said Wednesday, would cost between $100,000 and $120,000.

“We are guessing,” Caswell said, “the playground equipment was installed around 1995 and the equipment at that time met all existing federal safety standards. Unfortunately, over the years those standards have changed.”

“Parents should be able to sit and watch their kids play and not have to worry about them running into a street or park road,” he said.

To cut costs, Caswell said he also will recommend replacing the current equipment with less expensive features, such as swing sets.

“If we encounter the same situation down the road in ten years with equipment no longer complying with safety standards,” Caswell said, “it won’t be so expensive to replace — such as a $40,000 piece of playground equipment.”

Caswell said there are no plans for use of the equipment that is being removed from the park. He said the department is not sure what they can do with the equipment — whether they could sell it as playground equipment or sell it as scrap.

The Kiddy Corral was donated to the city by a citizen about 20 years ago.

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