Tot-lot concept to be on exhibit

Safety design was excluded from display, but CA panel then decided to include it


When the Columbia Association honored the Owen Brown Village Board's request to display safety design concepts for the Lake Elkhorn tot lot, one model was excluded from the package.

But the design, labeled "F," which would fence the entire playground, will be on display at the village community center because the association board voted Thursday night to send it over.

In response to the death of a 23-month-old boy who wandered from the playground and drowned in the lake in September, the association board ordered staff members to create safety design concepts -- labeled "A" to "F" -- for the tot lot. Plan "F" was heavily discussed during previous association board meetings and was voted down last month.

"I think to not have the option in the package is a false set of data because the village doesn't have it to make a complete decision," said Cynthia Coyle, a board member who represents Harper's Choice and the representative who started Thursday's discussion about giving the fencing plan to Owen Brown.

"I just feel that we look manipulative when we do things like this, and I don't want us to look that way."

After months of failed attempts to reach a decision, the association board told Neil Dorsey, chairman of the Owen Brown Village Board, that his village could continue conversations about the safety options for the playground.

Last week, the village set up a public display of the safety design options and a suggestion box. The display will be available for viewing until Aug. 11, and a public forum will be scheduled before the findings are presented to the Columbia Association board for action.

Tom O'Connor, the association board chairman, said the "F" design concept was excluded from the package "because they did not ask for it. They asked us for the other options."

He added: "There was no hidden agenda or anything like that. It was not asked for."

On Friday, Dorsey said, "We asked for copies of all the options, and the plan `F' was not included. And our assessment is that it was a nonissue because the board voted it down, and we felt that people know what that one was about already."

When asked if the addition of plan "F" would make a difference, Dorsey said the public wanted to see the other design concepts.

"People don't realize that there were plans `A' through `F' and what they look like. I also think our community folks can come up with some better suggestions so we can pass them along to the CA board."

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