June 18, 2006

THE ISSUE: -- The Columbia Association board voted to close the tot lot at Lake Elkhorn rather than build a barrier around the playground, which the board had been discussing for months after a toddler who was playing there drowned in the nearby lake in September. Do you think closing the playground is a good idea, or do you think the board overreacted?

(Editor's note: On Wednesday, the CA board reversed its decision to close the Lake Elkhorn tot lot. Nevertheless, we received numerous letters and wanted to publish a representative view of the responses.)

Move to close park was retribution

"Overreaction" is an understatement and too kind to board members who are clearly biased against young families.

This action was retribution for months of pressure that a group of parents have placed on the board to build a fence as an additional safety measure. It is political muscle flexing, and an atrocious abuse of power to pass a motion at midnight during a meeting where closing the tot lot was not even on the agenda.

Closing the tot lot eliminates a treasured free amenity to young families in an area where expenses make raising a family on a normal income nearly impossible. It could potentially affect property values in the surrounding area, and it is essentially an admission that the playground is unsafe as it is (which the board has denied for months).

The only silver lining here is that parents who had no opinion on the fence issue will now cause the board more headaches than they have had in the last nine months.

Amy Campbell Columbia

Shocked, saddened by CA's decision

I am shocked and saddened at the CA decision to close playground. Several years back a grown man drowned in Lake Elkhorn and we didn't close off the lake. Tragedies happen. It was horrible that a child died. But it's the adult caretaker/parent's obligation to watch their kids -- not the CA. I have 7 grandkids who love that playground. We cannot punish hundreds of children for one sad situation. I am very upset by this decision and hope it will be reversed.

Colette Roberts Columbia

Knee-jerk reaction to an awful tragedy

A Lake Elkhorn tot lot has existed for 20 years and people have been running, biking, boating, picnicking and, yes, swimming, in the lake nearby. This is the first time a child has drowned there.

I feel pain whenever I think of this truly sad event and cannot imagine what the parents and day care provider are experiencing.

However, tearing out the tot lot is a knee-jerk reaction. Generations of children have played there. Instead, building a low berm around the lot, supported by a low landscape tie wall, would keep the children in the area, give parents something to sit on and would look attractive. The entrances would be away from the street and the lake.

We could name the tot lot after the child who drowned. This would keep him in our memory and possibly make people more vigilant.

Accidents happen. Let us learn from it and make something positive come from the experience instead of destroying a facility that benefits everyone.

Ann Wing Columbia

CA actions have been wasteful

After the accidental drowning of the young boy, CA should have immediately installed a fence. Instead, they hired a consultant from another state to evaluate the property for over $20,000, which is the same cost or more than installing a fence in the first place.

This is wasteful government spending at its finest. Their answer to scrap the whole playground is ridiculous and unfair to residents who pay CA fees.

The community has made it clear that they wish them to put a fence up and they are not listening to the people that elected them. Not one person has even expressed a desire to tear this park down except the board.

This makes no sense at all.

Elissa Spangler Elkridge

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