By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
(May 11, 2023) The Berlin Parks Commission is weighing its options on how to address issues and deficiencies at the town’s playgrounds after receiving the annual playground equipment inspection report.
At its May 2 meeting, Public Works Director Jimmy Charles outlined the inspection, which was completed on April 20, and particularly highlighted Dr. William Henry Park, which racked up 32 issues.
“Missing paint, signage area distances between equipment, loose screws, loose bolts underneath roofs, (that sort of thing),” Charles said. “Stuff that over the winter could have worked its way loose and we’re going through now (to address those issues).
Town administrator Mary Bohlen pointed out that changing standards had a significant influence on the report.
“(These issues are) on a piece of the equipment (with standards) that were created by these different groups and they were perfectly fine but now the standards have changed. It is troubling that we have to go back and look at them,” she said.
Charles stressed again that all-weather equipment is going to show signs of wear and tear, especially in the “salt air” that comes with being a coastal community.
“We’re doing a lot of planning around town,” he said. “Once we get there, we’ll get back to addressing a lot of these issues and getting up to date.
Bohlen pointed out that even though the town takes playground safety seriously, it is a painstaking process to rectify issues.
“A lot of times it’s just like the instructions on your shampoo bottle,” she said. “Some person did something silly at one point so companies had to … try to reduce their liability. Some of the issues like chipping paint on the very top of a unit that a child can’t possibly climb to, but some way some child climbed to that height and got injured. So, they have to err on the side of caution, obviously. As do we. Sometimes it seems to defy common sense but you can almost guarantee that somebody somewhere got hurt in a similar manner. It’s an abundance of caution.”
Bohlen added that the commission will need to put together a budget to figure out how to address the report.
Some items, though, have been on the report for years and will likely continue to be, she said.
“For instance, the spacing issue — it’s more of a notion to increase a safety zone from six to eight feet so it’s not something where we can just (add mulch and call it a day). There’s more underneath than just that.”
Commission member said she’s glad that the issues that need fixing are out in the open now.
“So many of these issues are dealing with chipping paint and rust,” she said. “I’m glad that that’s the most of it.”