12:46 PM: Thanks to the person who texted us that photo of the suddenly fenced-off play structure at Roxhill Park and asked what was going on. We’re still investigating, but according to one round of e-mail forwarded to us, there is a safety concern with the custom-created metal “turret” on the community-built castle structure, which might be removed as a result, or moved. We’re working to find out more, but in the short run, please note for starters that the play structure – opened a year and a half ago after an extensive community funding/building project – is closed off.
1:12 PM UPDATE: Even the group that reported the safety problem didn’t get notice that the play area would suddenly be shut down, according to this e-mail just received from Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council chair Amanda Kay Helmick:
On October 8th, the WWRHAH Community Council wrote an email to Carol Baker at Parks mentioning the way the turret was leaning substantially to the left, and we were concerned that although, it has always leaned, it looked worse. We let her know that we are dead set on keeping the turret if indeed it needed to come down – and re-purpose it elsewhere at the playground.
Carol Baker emailed back on the 17th saying that “We had our parks engineer, architect and trades staff out earlier this week. They are developing plans but it will be repaired on site. Won’t know timeline until plans are finished but will let you know when I do.”
WWRHAH received confirmation today from Carol that “Initial plan was as I said below (above). However, there are people in the department who are concerned that the safest approach will be to temporarily remove the head. When it comes to safety we must error on the side of caution. ” Parks management has been reminded how important this special artwork is to the community who supported the play area rebuild. I will let you know when I know more.”
We are dismayed that the Community was not informed that the work would be taking place immediately, and the park closed. We have a call into Parks now to get a timeline and confirmation that the turret will be saved and re-purposed.
1:57 PM UPDATE: Parks spokesperson Joelle Hammerstad answered our inquiry:
The turret over the play structure is an art project that is filled with reflective tiles that are quite heavy. A recent inspection has our structural engineer concerned that the tiles may be too heavy for the Trex structure onto which they have been attached.
Out of an abundance of caution, we closed the structure — for the moment. We’re going to bring in a truck to pluck the turret off the top of the structure and re-open the play equipment to kids.
We’ll take the turret back to our Westbridge maintenance facility (located in West Seattle) to strengthen it before taking it back and replacing it.
We don’t know when that truck will be out, but it will be ASAP.
Our preference would have been to notify the community before the fences went up, but we felt it was important to act quickly.
2:48 PM: Update from Hammerstad via Twitter – Parks will be putting up explanatory signs at the play area this afternoon. Turret removal is not likely before tomorrow.