Your Opinions

Speak Out

September 25, 2005

THE ISSUE: Recently, a 23-month-old boy was playing with a group of children in day care at the Columbia Association playground near Lake Elkhorn, when he wandered away and drowned in the lake. Several people are pushing for a fence around the playground, which they say is unsafe. Do you think the association should build a fence?

Fencing best solution to problem at lake

I think by now almost everyone is aware of the dangers at the Lake Elkhorn playground. In fact, so many people have contacted me that we had to set up a Web site (http:--groups. yahoo.com/group/fence- lake-elkhorn-playground). If CA leaders were not aware of these concerns before, they must be now - not only because of Alex Ferrera's tragic death, but because they now have been presented with a petition by more than 200 people asking that CA fence the playground.

CA has asked its staff to look into the alternatives for addressing safety concerns there, including fencing, landscaping and even removing the playground. I look forward to seeing what ideas CA staff recommends. However, I feel that while appropriate landscaping may be helpful in some settings, the unique dangers at Lake Elkhorn make fencing the best alternative.

The Lake Elkhorn playground is surrounded by dangers: the lake/dock area, Cradlerock Way, the parking lot and the woods. Having multiple dangers makes supervising multiple children much more challenging, if not impossible. No one can keep an eye on more than one child at a playground 100 percent of the time, and little ones can slip away so fast, even with the most vigilant supervision. A fence with a single, self-latching gate will make it possible for parents and caregivers to supervise more than one child.

Jennifer Terrasa Columbia

Don't take chances; lake, road both risky

I agree with building a fence around the playground at Lake Elkhorn. Not only is the lake close, but turn the other way, and there is a frequently used road. Our children are precious. Please don't take a chance with their lives.

J.A. Wilson Columbia

Add playground fence, railing to bridge, dock

I am a Columbia resident and mother of two small children. We visit the Lake Elkhorn playground two to three times a week. I strongly feel there needs to be a fence around the playground as well as a railing along the dock and bridge at the lakefront. We need this to prevent another tragedy like the one that happened recently. Removing the playground altogether neither solves the problem nor serves our community.

Jenny Fetters Columbia

Lake should have same rules as pool

County law requires that fences be installed around swimming pools to prevent children from entering the pool area and drowning. What is different about a lake? Especially one with a children's playground nearby? Common sense says, "Fence it."

Wendy Royalty Ellicott City

Lake less of a risk than Cradlerock Way

The Columbia Association does not need to install a fence as a result of this tragic incident. The lake is almost 200 feet, at its closest point, to the playground. A 2-year-old would have to have been unattended for more than several minutes to toddle to the lake. I have taken my children to this playground many times and am more concerned about traffic on Cradlerock Way, which is much closer, than I am about the lake. The playground has been there for many years without incident, and installing a fence would imply culpability on the Columbia Association's part.

Craig Bruce Columbia

Fence, landscaping would lessen risks

I would like to invite anyone who opposes this measure to accompany my 21-month-old to the playground to chase him when he's running full speed down the hill toward the lake. A fence or some landscaping would work wonders to prevent another accident.

Amy Campbell Columbia

Lake and road cause grandmother worry

Yes, yes, urgently yes. The association should build a fence around the playground. Having spent many hours with a grandchild at the Lake Elkhorn tot lot, I've wondered even before the recent tragic incident why no such safety barrier had been considered for this site. Few other CA tot lots are closely bounded, as this one is, by the dual perils of high traffic and deep water.

Barbara Minah Columbia

Safety is caretaker's burden, not CA's

The question should not be whether it is the responsibility of the Columbia Association to build the fence but rather: Who is ultimately responsible for the well-being of those individuals who use the playground? The reality is that the blame for the incident should not fall on the lack of a fence but rather the lack of attention paid to those children using the playground. Why was the child allowed to wander off? Where was the supervision?

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