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Town removes unsafe playground equipment
Community Park will get updated first, due to central location

Ingrid Mezo

(2/9) The removal of unsafe playground equipment from three Thurmont parks is nearly complete, Commissioner Wayne Hooper said Tuesday.

Hooper said several residents wanted to buy the playground equipment removed from Community Park, Ice Plant Park and Woodland Park, but since it was deemed unsafe, it would be inappropriate for the town to sell it. The equipment was also damaged during its removal, he added, because it had to be cut.

Other residents called to see if they could donate money to the town to buy new playground equipment for the parks, and town officials said they would look into setting up a fund for that purpose.

The removal of the equipment was prompted by a suggestion from the town’s parks commission to inspect the playgrounds in fall 2005. One parks commission member is a playground inspector for Frederick County, Hooper said, and he had noticed that the some of the equipment could present a safety hazard for children. This was the first inspection of the equipment that Hooper was aware of.

‘‘The county and state do not require inspections," Hooper said. ‘‘Insurance companies will sometimes request them, but we were being entirely proactive with this one."

The town’s playgrounds are covered under the town’s liability insurance.

‘‘We’ve had a couple [children] hurt on some equipment before," Hooper said. ‘‘One of the pieces they were hurt on was taken out two years ago, but nothing recently."

The town hired Playground Specialists Inc., a Creagerstown company, to inspect the equipment for free, and public works staff removed most of the unsafe items last week. Spring animals in the parks were deemed ‘‘pinching hazards," and merry-go-rounds with pointed ends were found unsafe, Hooper said. Some of the swings were too close together as well. The equipment will be sold for scrap.

The town had budgeted a total of $8,600 for new equipment in Community Park, Woodland Park, Eyler Park and Carroll Street Park this year, but will use that money to make improvements to one park first.

‘‘Community Park will receive new equipment first, because it is more centrally located and more used," Hooper said. ‘‘I talked to Butch West from Public Works and told him to go ahead and spend the money we already budgeted [to put in new equipment.]"

Repairs to the main playground unit in Lower Community Park alone are expected to cost $15,106.

Hooper said that he expected the improvements to Community Park would start sometime in the spring.

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