Also closed today: Roxhill Park ‘castle’ play structure; community-crafted turret to be removed for reinforcement

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.

12 Replies to "Also closed today: Roxhill Park 'castle' play structure; community-crafted turret to be removed for reinforcement"

  • Rob October 23, 2014 (1:36 pm)

    We have become such a weak group of humans. When are they going to ban anything that gets a child off the ground… because you know Gravity is dangerous.

  • AmandaKH October 23, 2014 (1:49 pm)

    @Rob. The turret was not part of the original design, and it was painstakingly and lovingly done by hard working Community members. It is heavy, and the structure is having a hard time supporting it. Safety of our kids trumps all – and that doesn’t make us weak. It makes us smart.

  • Thomas M. October 23, 2014 (2:39 pm)

    That turret top looks to weigh at least 100 pounds. Do the math on that at 16 feet per second squared minus a little for debris in the way. That thing could cut a person in two. Gravity plus big heavy unstable objects is dangerous.

  • Bob October 23, 2014 (2:44 pm)

    I agree with @Rob, sadly we have become a weak society. Back in my day we played on actual turrets that fired actual artillery. Sometimes a kid got blown up but that was just the price we paid for freedom back then.

  • Carol O. October 23, 2014 (2:58 pm)

    Bring back Astroland.

  • CooperHawk October 23, 2014 (3:06 pm)

    Bob…HA!! And we LIKED IT!

    I played at Astroland as a kid. And definitely remember taking a few gulps before the first trip down the slide!

    And landing on my head a few times jumping off the swings.

  • jwright October 23, 2014 (4:25 pm)

    I applaud whoever had the nerve to act and close the play area immediately when a safety concern was identified. Having worked in industrial environments that could kill people, this safety-first mindset is what keeps people and property from getting hurt and damaged. Describing risk mitigation as being symptomatic of weakness is stone-age thinking. I do not think we were stronger back before seat belts, safety goggles, chain guards, helmets, etc.; I think we were more foolish.

  • Benjamin October 23, 2014 (4:47 pm)

    BOB! Thank you so much for that comment! Made me laugh out loud!

    I think the parks action is prudent.

  • Kristin October 23, 2014 (4:54 pm)

    If it’s leaning and the structure can’t support it, then YES, it needs to be shut down until fixed. I like the idea of re-purposing it for somewhere else (safer) w/n the playground. BTW, this has nothing to do with us as a society being “weak”. This has to do with our kids safety and it should be a #1 priority. Note to self: I need to stop reading (ignorant people’s) blog comments or I’ll drive myself crazy.

  • McBride October 23, 2014 (6:17 pm)

    Re-reading Rob’s comment, it appears (to me, at least) to be directed at the height of the structure, and not the turret at all. Which would be not the correct conclusion given the content of the post, but nevertheless a nice compliment for the park in a roundabout fashion. There are so few parks in Seattle that provide the play experience this one does, some where between almost none and none. That’s why we built it.
    Parks is working with the artist who crafted the turret (thanks again, Mike!), and the community is also partnered closely with Parks to ensure a good outcome (thanks again Amanda, Joe, and the extended WWRHAH community!). I’m certain it’ll all work out fine and we’ll be back to exploratory play in no time.

  • Not Surprised October 24, 2014 (11:22 am)

    I hate to say I told you so, 2 years ago. Back then, everyone thought I was a “paranoid grumpy old jerk” for speaking out. The kids and tax payers are now the losers.
    To back up, I’m all for these types of art projects, but the right people should be involved (structural engineers) from the onset, especially when child safety is paramount. The artist(s) did an fantastic job with the aesthetics – it truly is a shame it has to come down due to lack of proper planning up front. Hopefully they can find a way to reinforce it rather than remove it.

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