City strips parks under safety concerns
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INSPECTIONS REVEAL PLAYGROUND FLAWS
Pearsall city councilors have voted unanimously to remove playground equipment from two local parks in an effort to protect children’s safety and acknowledging an inability to prevent unrestricted access at the sites.
The November 8 decision came after a presentation by Parks Director Ramiro Otero regarding recent inspections of the park equipment.
“I have had several companies come out and look at the equipment,” Otero said. “The last one was done by Meyer Inspection and we failed every case. They have all recommended we fence the structures to keep people away.”
An inspection of the play structure at the Victor Trevino Sports Complex by Stephen Meyer highlighted a lack of surfacing around the equipment and noted that the fixtures were not accessible to children with disabilities.
According to the inspection, the area would need to be excavated, borders removed and new landscape cloth and engineered wood fiber added.
The estimated cost of replacing the play structure would be $60,000.
The inspection showed the swings at the sports complex violated safety codes as their seat brackets will curl and create sharp edges.
Otero said his crew could begin demolition of the equipment after a tournament scheduled for December.
“We really need one at the complex,” Otero said of the playground equipment. “It is really used during tournaments and when people are using the jogging trail.”
A second inspection conducted at Moreno Park on the city’s west side revealed the equipment is commonly found on a playground for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten aged children.
There is not the required surfacing beneath the structure and the structure is leaning. Side columns on the structure are bent, indicative that the equipment is being used by larger individuals, according to the inspection.
Meyer noted in the Moreno Park inspection that the swings are too close to the concrete, equipment is missing pieces, there is not sufficient amount of surfacing, and the fixtures are not compliant with codes for children with disabilities.
According to the parks director, it is estimated that it would cost $147,000 to bring the parks up to compliance.
“We need to do something in the immediate,” City Manager Federico Reyes said. “The park master plan should help us apply for funding. We need to do something this fiscal year.”
The city also owns Polo Patino Park, which began upgrades in the fall of 2018 after juveniles set fire to the iconic Westside School. At the time, the city administration used insurance funds to build a skate park and install a splashpad, new playground equipment, barbecue pits and workout stations. A reopening ceremony was held there in March 2019.
Centennial Park, across Trinity Street from the public library, is owned by the city and was dedicated as a park in 2009 to commemorate the city’s 100-year anniversary.
Firemen’s Park, located behind the Frio County Courthouse, is a county-owned facility.