When did the dream die?

Park playground a dangerous place for children


From left to right: rotted wood on slide where Robert Alec Martinez scraped his arm, shredded tire bridge and exposed nails can be found throughout the structure.

From left to right: rotted wood on slide where Robert Alec Martinez scraped his arm, shredded tire bridge and exposed nails can be found throughout the structure.

In the space of five days, an army of untrained but enthusiastic volunteers from Pleasanton transformed an empty patch of ground at the Atascosa River Park into something magnificent – a community-designed and volunteer-built playground.

From April 1-5, 1987 a cross-section of citizens from doctors, lawyers, teachers, priest, children, boy scouts, business leaders, restaurant owners and even four bus loads of air force men and women from Lackland worked tirelessly from dawn to dusk in the cold, wind and the rain. But, nothing could dampen their spirit as they were all there to “build a dream for the children in all of us”.

Sadly today, that dream has died.

A quick walk around the 8000 square foot playground shows how the structure has been allowed to deteriorate. Most every feature creatively imagined and then made real by a group of Pleasanton children is broken or non-functional. These items include an obstacle bridge, suspension bridge, swings, two slides, tire bridges, four towers with mazes and sand box. But, worse than the non-functional parts are those that are still functional as children play inches away from danger and a possible trip to the emergency room. Rusty nails and bolts jut out around the perimeters. Both of the slides have decayed wood pieces that are pointy and jagged and pieces of metal are loose and sharp and spiky splintered pylons are peppered through the playground.

At the park today, Maria Martinez of Pleasanton said, “You are constantly having to watch your kids to make sure that they don’t get hurt.” She then pointed out that her son had just minutes before slid down the slide scraping the inside of his arm from his elbow to his wrist. Ms. Martinez asks her son, Robert Alec Martinez age 2 1/2 to show where he was hurt. The red scratch was bright and the tears had not dried yet from Robert’s eyes.

The Creative Playground project was organized by two Pleasanton women, Pam Peeler and Rachel Hurley. They hired famed New York architect Robert Leathers, who has of today built 2,500 playgrounds. Leathers is adamant about safety saying that it is his first and foremost concern. All his designers, project managers, and consultants are Certified Playground Safety Inspectors. All designs are carefully developed, drawn, and built to conform to all current safety guidelines and to fit site and utility requirements.

Yesterday, Rachel Hurley stated that she and Pam Peeler met with the then City Manager Larry Pippen and the Pleasanton City Council before the project began to ensure that the City would be the responsible party for maintenance and upkeep after it was completed. Mr. Pippen said that he understood that the City would have sole responsibility for upkeep and maintenance.

Hurley gave Mr. Pippen the extensive maintenance manual and a long-term care guide that Mr. Leathers gives out with every project. In that packet it also states that Leather’s & Associates are available by phone for the life of the project.

The Pleasanton Express will be meeting with new City Manager Bruce Pearson next week to discuss the state of the City Park. If you have questions, concerns or comments that the Express could share with the City Manager Pearson, please email nwilkersonholmes@pleasantonexpress.com.



 

 

 

 

The completed playground in 1987.

The completed playground in 1987.

Young and old, enjoyed the new play structures.

Young and old, enjoyed the new play structures.

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