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Debate continues over playground equipment

Klode Park group says more study is needed

Aug. 4, 2010

Whitefish Bay — The recently formed Friends of Klode Park wants a moratorium on the installation of playground equipment at the park this year, but the village may not allow it.

The village has $36,600 in Community Development Block Grant funds that village staff believes must be spent by year's end.

Members of the Friends group want a say in the selection of new equipment purchased with the funds, particularly focusing on safety standards and universal accessibility, member Amy Bruett said.

Trustee Kevin Buckley and other parents of young children questioned the first piece of equipment purchased with the block grant funds. It includes a slide without rails, nicknamed the "danger slide" by parents. That structure is for 5- to 12-year-old children, but younger children are attracted to it. Buckley and others do not feel the slide is safe for younger kids.

The Friends group contacted the office of County Supervisor Joe Rice and was told the 2010 block grant funds could be carried into next year. Bruett said that by doing that, the village might be able to develop a playground/park plan and combine 2010 and 2011 funding. That could save the village money on delivery charges and result in expanded equipment choices.

Miller & Associates, a design firm, submitted a proposal to the village that calls for a play structure for 2- to 5-year-old children to replace the existing toddler structure at the park.

"The toddler structure you are removing is the first one kids can use," Buckley said. "The new structure has some areas a toddler can be on, but it has a second level. I see this as repeating the error we made last year (with the purchase of the equipment for the 5- to 12-year-olds)."

Before going to bid on the proposed equipment for 2- to 5-year-old children, village staff will check to see if this year's block grant funds can be used in 2011.

"There is some danger in not using the funds this year," said Village President Kathleen Pritchard. "The (grant money) is as volatile as anything."

The village could end up with nothing if it does not take advantage of the 2010 funding before the end of the year, she said.

Carolyn Ferraioli, a member of the Friends group, said the village needs to view the park as a whole.

"It seems shortsighted to just put something in because we have grant money," she said.

The Village Board decided Monday to wait until its Aug. 16 meeting to make a decision on whether to seek bids for the structure and installation after members of the Friends group made a presentation to trustees.

Trustee Jim Roemer said members of the group should look at the proposed new equipment and determine if they are satisfied with it, in case the funding cannot be carried into the next year.

If the funding can be rolled over, he said the village and Friends could work on a more comprehensive plan.

The first and second phases could be done in 2011 with funding from 2010 and 2011 funding. The design for phase four could also be completed at the same time, with installation for that equipment in 2012, provided that there is funding.

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