Without playground equipment, would Mammoth Creek Park just be one giant litter box? (Photo: Lunch)
It’s been six months since the Town of Mammoth’s Recreation Commission learned that the playground equipment at Mammoth Creek Park was no longer compliant with health and safety regulations, and for nearly as long, the Commission has been trying to get Mammoth’s Town Council to pay attention to the issue.
In October 2010, the Commission had a joint meeting with the Council to discuss Measure R supplanting. The Town had put forth several Measure R applications for items the Commission felt were blatant examples of supplanting. The playground equipment was one of them because it is part of an existing facility. The Council agreed last year that the General Fund should indeed cover things like the replacement of the playground equipment but it has yet to do anything about it.
At its April 5 meeting, the Recreation Commission again discussed the playground equipment. Commissioner Teri Stehlik claimed she had been trying to place the item on the Council’s agenda as an emergency issue for the past two months.
“We need to vote again to send it to Council and we need to send a strong message,” Stehlik explained. “The equipment needs to be replaced this year and if the Council cannot find the funds in its budget, then we should recommend removing the equipment and leave the park empty.”
The Commission was told by Town staff that the out of compliance equipment represented a lawsuit waiting to happen if left in the park in its current state.
Interim Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez explained further that “the potential harm was a child or adult using the equipment and injuring himself or herself, which would be a liability to the Town.”
Previously, it had been thought that the equipment was not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, but the Town’s Public Works Director Ray Jarvis explained that while the Town does need to provide ADA accessibility to the playground, the equipment was actually out of compliance with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission as well as the American Society for Testing and Materials.
The compliance issue stems from the equipment simply being so old that the materials are “fatigued,” said Jarvis.
“Staff is going to request that Council appropriate funds to replace the equipment in this fiscal year in order to get things rolling more quickly,” Jarvis said.
After The Sheet reported on the Commission’s recommendation last week there were several posts on Facebook from concerned community members discussing the issue. The consensus: leave the equipment where it is until it can be replaced, compliant or not.
Commission member Sean Turner jumped into the Facebook discussion to point out that the goal of the strong language from the Commission was “to get attention to this issue,” which he felt had worked.
When asked why the issue has gone on so long without resolution, Council member Rick Wood said, “Great question, maybe it’s because the Commission hasn’t really pressed it. Perhaps with the onset of winter [after the initial October 2010 discussion] it wasn’t at the top of the list. I know that there have been so many other priorities [Hot Creek lawsuit] that it hasn’t been my focus.”
Wood added that until this week when he was told that it was going to be on Council’s April 20 agenda he had not seen it as the health and safety issue that he has now been told it is. He added that the expenditure for the equipment is expected to run approximately $136,000.
Wood was not in favor of removing the equipment and leaving the park empty. “We need to maintain our parks to the required standards. This is an important park for kids and we owe it to the community to have more than one set of equipment,” he said referring to the equipment at Shady Rest Park. “I hope the Council would not allow the equipment to be taken out.”
Wood was uncertain whether or not the playground equipment that is meant for the Trails End Park, but is currently sitting in storage awaiting that park’s completion, could be used for Mammoth Creek Park in the interim.
“That is definitely something that will need to be part of the discussion next week,” he said.