TOY TAKEAWAY: Ercolini Park toy roundup brings plea from parents

(Photo from petition page)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Ercolini Park at 48th/Alaska was dedicated eight years ago as a triumph of community collaboration – grants, donatios, volunteer labor, passion.

Since its opening, a community tradition has grown – toys kept at the park for young visitors to share.

This afternoon, all but a few of those toys are gone.


A Seattle Parks crew gathered them up and took them away. One local mom said it was the second roundup and so she took action, launching a petition on, with this plea:

Attention: Seattle Parks and Recreation Jesus Aguirre, Superintendent Christopher Williams, Deputy Superintendent

In the last month, there has been a mass exodus of toys from West Seattle’s Ercolini Park – two pick-ups in the last two weeks! We’re heartbroken and our children miss their toys!

After the first removal, parents rallied and donated toys for the use of hundreds of toddlers and children in our community. The large majority of them were taken by the City this morning. All of the push carts are gone. We’re left with a few tricycles and other toys that the littlest community members aren’t old enough to play with. We’re told a neighbor has filed a complaint, leading the Department of Parks and Recreation to take action. With no means through which to negotiate with the neighbor, we’re asking you to please also take into account the wishes of the larger community.

Wasn’t Ercolini gifted to the city for precisely this reason? Ercolini is special BECAUSE of the toys. Without them, it’s every other park in Seattle. Our children have learned to walk at Ercolini, ride bikes, share with other children, discover empathy, and experience true community. For the parents, we have a place to take them, meet other parents, it’s a space that encourages outdoor time and interaction in a way that other parks can’t. Ercolini is unique and should be kept that way.

We ask the following:

– Please limit the frequency of toy removal to a more cyclical time frame. Families have donated toys to replenish the loss and those toys should have a reasonable life span for the children’s use, and/or;

– Only take the broken toys and/or set up an area for parents to deposit broken toys for the City to pick up rather than taking all or most of them. We’re happy to partner with the City on this, and/or;

– Please arrange an opportunity for us to work with the neighbors requesting removal so we can reach a mutually beneficial agreement; and/or

– Suggest an alternative to removing the toys. Many thanks in advance for considering our requests.

-West Seattle Parents Who Care

As of the moment we’re hitting “publish” on this story, that online petition has more than 430 signers.

After hearing about this – thanks for all the tips! – we asked Parks about the toy takeaway, and spokesperson Dewey Potter replied: “The Park Code has a section that prohibits leaving things in a park. We know that some people like to bring supplemental toys to play areas, and we have tried to walk a middle ground. The toys the crew removed this morning were either old or broken, and there are still many left at the playground. The crew has had complaints from people who had tripped or nearly tripped, so they did post signs in the park. People apparently are not paying attention to the signs, so the crew tries to walk that middle ground by going by once a week to remove any toys that are worn or broken or could present an obstacle or a hazard. Ercolini Park has an unusually large number of toys that are left behind — the crew chief once counted four dozen. We would encourage people to leave only toys that are in good repair.”

Meantime, what happened to the toys taken away by Parks crews – are they somewhere awaiting pickup, or did they just get dumped? We’re waiting for the answer to that.

ADDED WEDNESDAY EVENING: That response, also from Parks spokesperson Potter: “The toys from previous pickups are gone. The crew chief took a quick look at the toys that came in today. She saw signs of wear on the toys on the top of the load and asked the staff about their condition. Their guideline was that they removed toys with damage of any kind. The toys are in the packer truck and cannot be retrieved.”

74 Replies to "TOY TAKEAWAY: Ercolini Park toy roundup brings plea from parents"

  • Double Dub Resident June 8, 2016 (4:30 pm)

    I’ve taken my daughter to this park a few times and it’s really cool to have all those toys there. What a scrooge of a neighbor and what a waste of time for the parks department. They have so many other issues that need to be addressed, but of course this “becomes priority” for some reason.   

    • Andy June 9, 2016 (5:52 am)

      It’s like so many things in this country. In this case, a carping neighbor complains and the vast percentage of the publics’ wishes are ignored.

  • CherylR June 8, 2016 (4:31 pm)

    Ridiculous! One of the most special things about Ercolini Park has been the toys the community leaves for others to use. It was one of our favorite spots in West Seattle when my daughter was very small. I just don’t understand this action at all (or rather, my head “understands” it but my heart says it’s still ridiculous).

  • Alexandra June 8, 2016 (4:41 pm)

    I was there this morning the toys were in perfect condition and i was told a neighbor complained about toys. Really too bad.

  • CW June 8, 2016 (5:01 pm)

    Our kids have spent many a day playing at Ercolini and it was so great having the toys there, though I think it might have been getting a little out of hand with the number of toys recently.  Sadly, I think it’s our litigious society that drives government and businesses to take no chances.  It’s a no win situation.  The leave a mass of toys and someone sues.  They remove them and everyone is upset.  What happened to the good old days?

  • Gene June 8, 2016 (5:16 pm)

    So according to the story the Parks Dept– didn’t take all the toys away– just the old & broken ones–but left many there. What is wrong with that? 

    As a parent wouldn’t that be a good thing – kids playing on / with toys in good condition? 

    • Nicole W June 8, 2016 (7:41 pm)

      If only that were the case! The vast majority of toys were in great shape and they took them anyway. They left very few toys there. It’s a big loss for so many families that enjoyed bringing their little ones there. Especially for those who can’t afford to buy bikes, scooters, and ride on toys for their little ones. Makes me very sad…

  • Jeannie June 8, 2016 (5:25 pm)

    Signed the petition. Our Parks Department is not known for its brilliant decisions, though.

  • shihtzu June 8, 2016 (5:41 pm)

    I think it was getting a little out of hand and looked like a dumping ground for people too lazy to bring old toys to the goodwill. I like the idea, but within reason! It will fill up again.

  • Elly June 8, 2016 (5:42 pm)

    This park is a huge reason why we chose the house we bought! The author of the letter is right on all counts (thank you!!) I’ll sign the petition ASAP. Would like the anonymous neighbor to come forward and explain themselves.

  • Jenny June 8, 2016 (5:43 pm)


      For the first 4 years of my son’s life we lived in a duplex without a yard.  Thus, we owned no  outside riding toys.  Ercolini was amazing to go to and allowed my son to explore and use a wide variety of scooters, tricycles and little cars that you push with your feet.  He learned how to pedal there.  In addition,  I know its important to weed out broken toys, however, I have to say, my son got a kick out of finding a piece of a broken toy and then going and finding what it belonged to across the park and “fixing it”.  In some ways, having some broken (not dangerous) toys, I think helps with creativity and imagination.  

  • Les June 8, 2016 (5:44 pm)

     Sad this cities leaders have  lost touch with reality 

  • Amanda Konstantas June 8, 2016 (5:57 pm)

    No way they were all broken. I go there everyday with my little guy and most of those toys had just been dropped off and were in great condition. 

    • WSB June 8, 2016 (6:03 pm)

      Also: While the Parks spokesperson’s reply mentioned “many” toys left behind, as one commenter has cited, I did point out to them that when Patrick and I went by the park before writing this, we saw what I would characterize more as a “few” (and I’ve seen the park with “many,” I wish we had a file photo!) – as shown in our photo above.

  • Double Dub Resident June 8, 2016 (6:02 pm)

    Well Gene, there seems to be conflicting stories then. According to the beginning of this story, all but a few toys were taken. By the looks of the Parks Dept. truck and the pic below it, that seems to fit for this narrative.

  • JW June 8, 2016 (6:38 pm)

    We can’t have toys at a park because someone might trip on them? Seriously? How can they expect us to pay attention to the signs when they don’t even expect us to pay attention to where we are walking?

  • Grace June 8, 2016 (6:38 pm)

    The city needs to “butt out”, and let the neighborhood  parents decide what toy’s should stay and what toy’s should go – – -why can’t WS have one park that’s different and for the little ones???? – -Grace 

  • Azimth June 8, 2016 (6:42 pm)

    Make sure to complain to the city directly in addition to the petition. Let Lisa Herbold know too, that’s her job!

    I think the simplest solution is to provide a large bin so that users can decide if a toy is broken or not usable. I’m there with my toddler a couple times a month and maybe a few things need to be tossed but by and large everything is usable. 

    If tripping is your biggest concern then maybe you should look where you walk instead of your phone when you cut through a playground.

  • dsa June 8, 2016 (6:43 pm)

    The parks truck looks stuffed.  The toy stores will be pleased.

  • Julie June 8, 2016 (6:43 pm)

    I didn’t even know the real name of the park. I have always called the park of lost and forgotten toys. 😀 

      I think the toys are great, but do agree they can get out of hand. Perhaps they should provide an acceptable number of toys in good shape that may stay? There seems to be a bit of inconsistency and confusion. 

      I always see kids enjoying the toys, so it would be a shame if they all had to go.

  • JN June 8, 2016 (6:47 pm)

    I live blocks from this park (not the one who complained though) and have often thought about writing the Parks Dept. about this situation. It is simply unacceptable to leave toys in a public park, especially to the level it had gotten to where there were at least 50 large toys in various states of condition. There was never any mention when the park was established (I should know, I’ve lived blocks from it years before it was established) of it becoming some sort of public toy dumping ground. It was an eyesore and a lawsuit waiting to happen, and I’m glad that Parks took action. If you want to use a toy at a park, take it WITH you when you leave. 

    • Jon Wright June 8, 2016 (8:11 pm)

      What is “unacceptable” about it?

      • JN June 8, 2016 (10:03 pm)

        Uh, the part where leaving things in a park is specifically prohibited by the Parks Department in their code makes it unacceptable: “…spokesperson Dewey Potter replied: “The Park Code has a section that prohibits leaving things in a park. . Or did you perhaps not read the article?

  • Beth Bakeman June 8, 2016 (6:56 pm)

    Suggested caption for the photo: modern day Grinch with an overflowing truck full of toys.

    Only this is a policy-induced government-sponsored Grinch.

  • scs June 8, 2016 (6:58 pm)

    I’m 50/50. 

    If someone could stop all the older kids from destroying the toy’s then I’m sure that they wouldn’t have to take away all the plastic broken toys.

    It does need to be picked up, I go about every 2 weeks and see older kids who have no business even being there throwing, jumping, ramming, stomping and smashing the toy’s.

    One time a boy about 10 was sitting on top of the larger play structure catching a soccer ball that two of his friends were kicking to him! My husband got hit in the face so hard that it bruised the next day. Not ok, but there were no parents around? If that had been my my toddler hit in the face?

    No parents around to correct them, and I have been the only person with enough ballz to approach them and threaten to call the cops for destroying property & dangerous unrespectful attitudes.

    • Ercolini Nabe June 9, 2016 (8:50 am)

      Not the only person! Several of us who live on the block frequently confront older kids who are destroying the toys and abusing the playground equipment. But thanks for taking a stand.

  • Chris June 8, 2016 (7:19 pm)

    That is a shame !

  • RS June 8, 2016 (7:29 pm)

    We live right next to the park, and I would like to assure anyone who may be wondering that we aren’t the neighbors who complained, and have no idea who did.

  • Admiral Mom June 8, 2016 (7:32 pm)

    This brought to you from ‘complaints from people that have tripped or nearly tripped”

    The children lose when the NIMBYS win.

  • Gatewood Rob June 8, 2016 (7:46 pm)

    No kids so no stake really, however…  wasn’t it just last week that the sweep of the “jungle” was slowed by the city council, and now there has to be 3 days notice and a bunch of other crazy requirements to evict squatters from public land where some have effectively lived for years?  Sounds like parks and social services need to take lessons from each other.  Notice and expediency.  Or just switch their duties.  Toys will be there forever and vagrants rounded up and removed every week…

    • Macj June 9, 2016 (12:16 pm)

      Equating plastic toys with human beings?

  • RS June 8, 2016 (7:49 pm)

    I agree with SCS. Teenagers trashing the toys for sport is a huge problem! 

  • Carrie June 8, 2016 (7:53 pm)

    Why not just build a “garage” for the toys in the corner of the park? Kids can pull toys out when they want to play and put them back when they are done. A donation or recycle bin could go next to this for parents to pull out toys ready for new life. This cleans up the “eyesore” (what I assume the neighbor is upset about), keeps the spirit of the park alive, teaches kids how to take care of things, and prevents the distracted dog walker from tripping on a tricycle. If neighbors pitched in for materials and elbow grease we could get this built in a weekend.

  • momoftwoboys June 8, 2016 (8:12 pm)

    I agree with both Julie and JN. It’s a fine line — having just 5 ride-on or push toys is too few but when it’s approaching 50 it truly does start looking like a dumping ground. Additionally, as someone who lives close-by and worked on the planning committee way back when, the intention of the paved area in the park was to allow kids of all ages to ride their bikes and scooters. Having so many plastic toys strewn throughout the park has really prevented the 6-10 year old age group from being able to ride around on their bikes safely. Also, there have been so many toys everywhere that the 10-15 year old age group have been deterred from using the grassy area for soccer, frisbee etc — which was also one of the intentions when the park was built. It was defined as a “pocket park” — one which would gather the neighbours who live close by and folks of ALL ages. Those folks who have the 0-5 aged kids may feel differently in a few years when you would like a place for your child to learn ride their bike. More is not always better….let’s find a balance that works for all ages. (PS — the donating of toys started a year or two after the park was opened and it grew organically. Love the nature of the donations and recycling them, but for those who think the toys were a part of Ercolini from day one they are incorrect.)

    • JW June 8, 2016 (9:22 pm)

      MomOfTwoBoys: While I totally get where you are coming from that the park was intended to be for everyone, it has developed to fit a very specific need in the community.  I do have very young ones who frequent the park.  In fact, it’s the only park where we are “regulars.”  That’s because a lot of parks in the area don’t fit the needs of very young children.  Most play structures in parks are made for kids 5 years old and up.  There are very few places that offer safe outdoor play for new walkers.  When my kids get older, I suspect that we will be heading out to many of the other parks in West Seattle that better fit the needs of other age groups.  There are ample of them.  The toys at this park are so special because there is nowhere else like it anywhere in the area.  It provides a sense of community for many of West Seattle’s families.  While the current use of the park may not have been the original intention, it’s not hard to argue that it has become something very exceptional for our community.

    • Jon Wright June 8, 2016 (9:40 pm)

      Regardless what the “intention” of the paved path or the grassy field was, the park has evolved into one predominantly used by toddlers and small children. I think it is deluded to think that if only the toys were gone 6-10 year olds on bikes and 10-15 year olds with Frisbees and soccer balls are suddenly going materialize at Ercolini.

      • Ercolini Nabe June 9, 2016 (8:54 am)

        FWIW, I live on the block and often see 10-15 year olds kicking a soccer ball on the grassy area. One of my neighbors’ kids practices out there all the time.

    • WSMOM June 8, 2016 (11:19 pm)

      I think the planning committee did a wonderful job, so thank you. I’m sorry that its use has not turned out the way that you envisioned, but it is obviously a very well-loved park.  You should be proud. It has evolved into something unique that serves a segment of the population (young children) who don’t have many other options for indoor or outdoor play areas.  Trust me, I have spent the last year looking for both and have yet to find anything that keeps my toddler as entertained as Ercolini. While the actual play structure is one of the best that I have seen for toddlers, it is the toys that really keep her busy and engaged and they are a big part of what makes this park so special.  

    • momoftwoboys June 9, 2016 (8:54 am)

      Just to clarify my “intention” of my post, I was by no means saying that the park shouldn’t be for the younger kids — it’s great that it’s become a gathering place for young families and it’s obvious the park was needed for toddlers since it’s such a popular spot. And also to clarify: as someone who helped to plan the park, I am not disappointed in how the park turned out or that it didn’t end up the way I envisioned. It’s a huge success for our community. I gave the background simply to let others know that the neighbourhood wanted the park to work for all ages, not just a “tot lot.” And it’s not “deluded” to think that the older kids would “materialize” if there was space for them, because for quite some time (prior to the park being overrun with 50 toys), kids of all ages would be there. Some of the comments in this thread even mention older kids not belonging there or that they wouldn’t want older kids there on their bikes. Let me add that we are daily users of the park and I have two young kids, but it would be nice for folks to step back and try to think of other points of view and needs of other ages and neighbors. We can all co-exist, have fun, socialize and the toys can be kept to a reasonable number. 

      • Jon Wright June 10, 2016 (2:50 pm)

        Sorry, I just vehemently disagree with the notion that if it weren’t for the presence of all the toys, there were be more older kids playing at Ercolini.

  • Dewain Savage June 8, 2016 (8:16 pm)

    What a load of bull—- by the Parks department. Some of those toys have been there for a long time, they may not be in perfect shape but the three and four year olds loved them.

    This is malicious enforcement of a rule by the Parks department. One complaint and they do all this, some employee has been aching to do this for months just because its a rule somewhere. The head of the Parks and Rec ought to be held accountable for such insensitivity to the communities use of this park. The mayor needs to quit threatening Sally Bagshaw and get involved in some positive correction.

    • candrewb June 9, 2016 (5:25 am)

      He should keep threatening Bagshaw too.

  • Neighbor June 8, 2016 (8:35 pm)

    We go there often and those of you saying the toys were in great shape must not notice the missing wheels, broken plastic, etc. I like having some toys there, but it was getting to a point where it looked like is was a dumping ground. The large plastic playhouse with a giant rip in the ceiling had been there for a year. When I go there I try to clean up the toys and trash left behind and I never saw anyone else doing the same. A few years ago it was just a few toys and this past year it got out of control. I felt like as a community we were letting our kids know it was okay to have tons of plastic toys strewn all over the place with no regard of putting them away… I didn’t complain, but I like that my kids can ride a bike on the trail now, and that I don’t feel like I need to tidy up the giant mess while we visit.

  • Azimth June 8, 2016 (9:06 pm)

    If there should be complaints it should be about the state of the grass field. A muddy mess all winter, patchy and bumpy the rest of the year.

  • CanDo June 8, 2016 (9:06 pm)

    Why should a neighbor give a rip about the toys in the park?   I seriously doubt it lowers the value of their home or wrecks their view… unless they are expecting some sort of pristine view of grass only and not a play park where kids have fun.  I live a block away from the park and love hearing the sounds of happy kids in the air.   Not only that, when people from out of town visit, they are incredulous that we have a park in the neighborhood where toys are available for toddlers and not stolen…  except now by the parks department.   One complaint results in this?  One?  I would love for just one of my complaints about traffic, free wheeling developers, potholes, lack of planning for growth, crime, the homeless problem, etc., to be responded to at all.

  • Low Bridge June 8, 2016 (9:12 pm)

    The outrage–yes by all means more toys for Ercolini! 

    Also if we have any left over, maybe some outrage about guns in West Seattle.

  • Jon Wright June 8, 2016 (9:49 pm)

    Regardless what the state of the toys was, guess what? The kids loved them and still managed to have fun with them! Somebody mentioned the playhouse….no matter how beat up the it got, kids were always playing in it! I am so frustrated because this isn’t about what suits the kids or what they want, it is about some busybody adult’s notion of aesthetics.

  • Nobody Important June 8, 2016 (10:26 pm)

    I have been to the park multiple times with my 1 and 4 year old children.  Most and I mean 80%+ of the toys in that park were complete junk.  I would have to inspect the toys before letting my children touch them.  Rusty sharp old Tonka trucks, Power Wheels with wires hanging out, and trashed tricycles with cracked seats – were the most donated toys to the park.  Most people who donated toys were just getting rid of their trash.  The shelf life of a Chinese made toy left in the elements is about a month – they should clean out that park at least once a month.

    Funny thing is – priority is given to clean out a park with toys in West Seattle but we can’t clean out a park in downtown Seattle with heroin needles, garbage, and feces.  Hmmmm

  • Park Lover June 8, 2016 (11:08 pm)

    I bring my four year old to that park regularly and used to bring my eleven year old when the park first opened.  There were so many toys strewn about I was always clearing a path so my kiddo could ride the circuit – that is if we could find a riding toy that actually worked.  The toys may be perfectly fine when it first appears but, given the volume of kiddos using them they eventually get worn out.  Funny how no one thinks to get rid of the toys once they’re broken and unserviceable.  It only takes one person to decide to sue the Parks Dept. because they left broken donated toy at a playground and their little precious was injured playing on it.   

  • Elle Nell June 8, 2016 (11:28 pm)

    Teach children to play outside in nature.. To use their imagination. Not play on plastic. We need this in our society now more than ever ..for many many reasons.

  • Momoftoddler June 8, 2016 (11:31 pm)

    As momoftwoboys indicated “the intention of the paved area in the park was to allow kids of all ages to ride their bikes and scooters”.  The idea of this terrifies me!  I am the mother of a 16 month old and I have been taking her to Ercolini at least once a week since she was 11 months old and had just started walking.  I wouldn’t mind if a young child was learning to ride a tricycle, or a bike with training wheels with a parent nearby (which I have seen at Ercolini on a number of occasions), but I would not feel safe letting my daughter waddle around with “kids of all ages” riding their bikes, with or without toys present.  That is a recipe for disaster! 

    “Those folks who have the 0-5 aged kids may feel differently in a few years when you would like a place for your child to learn ride their bike”…as one of “those folks”, I have no plans to teach my child to ride her bike at Ercolini and I don’t think I will feel differently about that when she is older.  There are plenty of other and better places nearby where she can do that (including the track at Hiawatha park where I have seen many elementary aged children happily riding their bikes).

  • Not neighbor June 9, 2016 (1:03 am)

    Kids can play without those toys.

    It’s a park. You run, kick and toss balls, blow bubbles with your kids.  When kids are old enough, they can play with jungle gym.

    I am a mom of 5 year old and I don’t like the park because of the too many broken toys. I haven’t seen any adults putting broken toys in or by the garbage can there- sounds like there are a few people out there trying to clean though.

    Yes, I know it’s fun to have toys, but again, kids can play in the park without them. I feel sorry for the neighbors who have to see the park with too many junks everyday.

  • Artsea June 9, 2016 (5:30 am)

    I’m an older guy who lives only a half block from Ercolini Park and always enjoy seeing how well used this relatively new park has always been by parents and their quite young kids.  I also find it amusing to see all these colorful plastic toys sitting around.  And being used.  Yes, there are a lot of them, but I think the city should allow the many parents who use the park to have some input about these toys.  A place where they could set broken ones for removal would be good.  Also, maybe a sign indicating the maximum number of good one allowed would be agreeable to most parents.  More than that number could be removed periodically.   

  • flimflam June 9, 2016 (6:05 am)

    is this the same parks dept that seems to have no problem with off leash dogs in many of our parks? what about the needles and strung out transients – that’s ok but toys? no way!

  • Nancy June 9, 2016 (6:33 am)

    The parks/city are so down with picking up toys, how about spending more time pick up the piles of homeless garbage that certainly must be unlawful.   Tax paying residents are punished but those who are not get to do as they please.  Where is the fairness in that?

  • Michelle June 9, 2016 (7:04 am)

    I think Ercolini park is great and the supply of toys is amazing and shows community generosity. However, it has become a bit of a dumping ground. Yes, many toys are in usable condition but many others are essentially junk. Furthermore, the park’s circular pathway creates a racetrack of sorts so crossing from one end to the other is a bit perilous. The concept is a really beautiful thing but lately it’s become a bit of a free-for-all with parents and caretakers glued to their phones instead of making sure their child(ren) don’t run over a baby.

  • Dana June 9, 2016 (7:22 am)

    I think it’s about time some of those toys were taken away.  The numbers of them had grown and I counted a few weeks ago and there were over 50. I can’t imagine that at any given time they would all be used and it was looking like a junkyard. Many of them were in bad shape.  I am not opposed to a dozen or so of these little cars, but the situation have genuinely gotten out of hand and I think the parks department! 

  • Joan June 9, 2016 (7:36 am)

    It seems strange to be so strict with “toys” when other rules for parks are not enforced well. Like,  people with dogs unleashed! I consistently see dogs walking or running with their owners, not on leashes. I don’t care if they’re friendly or well behaved. The rule is to protect other people and wildlife! My local park has bunnies and ground-nesting birds. I enjoy watching wildlife and don’t want to see them chased by loose dogs.  Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs. Just obey the rules.

    • BrassyMomma June 9, 2016 (10:54 am)

      YES YES YES!!!

      I am exhausted dealing with the dog issue here, too. GUH.

  • Neigh June 9, 2016 (7:49 am)

    It seems as though if the parks dept was really worried about a lawsuit they would be removing the rebar stuck in the path at Schmitz Park or the huge spikes sticking out of logs at Lincoln Park. Both have been reported over months ago yet still remain. Toys vs metal sticking up on well used paths….seems like one should have priority doesn’t it?

  • mark47n June 9, 2016 (8:25 am)

    Lots of assumptions that you, the user, are the owner/operator of said park (and don’t hand me the line of it’s mine because I pay taxes). As one who live near the park, I like to see the kids playing in the park and love how much use we, as a community, get out of the park but it’s not a dumping ground for the toys that have been outgrown. It is absolutely within the purview of the city to set the rules for the care of the park. Strangely, folks around these parts seem to want the rules enforces in circumstance. That benefit them, such as rules regarding dogs (which aren’t within the parks departments purview) and not in cases such as this. Toys are not your right at the park. Ironically, if a kid got hurt on one of the toys inevitably they would sue the city.

    It’s not a bad thing that old damaged toys be removed. It also makes room for new toys that will inevitably appear as toddlers outgrow them and parents give them IPads, smartphones and gaming systems to retard the development of creativity and being able to entertain themselves.

  • JVP June 9, 2016 (8:56 am)

    I live nearby, and while we don’t have kids we love the toys at Ercolini. 

    It it sounds like some self policing and self-cleanup is in order. You regular users should create a “friends” group that weekly goes in and repairs or discards the broken toys.  If you take matters into your own hands, then the parks department won’t have to be so draconian.

    I have been involved in this kind of thing at other parks for other uses  it works.

  • steve June 9, 2016 (9:53 am)

    I think it will all work out. Parents will bring toys back. Meanwhile some of the really dangerous ones have been removed.  And isn’t it  important to keep this wonderful park neat and hazard free?  Sometimes it looks like a war zone. Idea! Maybe we could establish a little holding pen, where kids can be asked to put things away when done.  I don’t know. I think it will all work out.

    I’ve dropped off many toys that we’ve grown out of. Cool out. Toys will return. 

  • Less Legs June 9, 2016 (10:33 am)

    A few toys are fine, but when it becomes a dump all for toys no longer wanted, then its a problem. 

    This is another instance where common sense plays the best, i.e if there are already enough toys at the park then DON’T BRING MORE.

    I walk by this park daily, and my wife and I dubbed it “garbage park” 

    The scrooges of the neighborhood might not be so bothered if the parents exercised a wee bit of restraint. I think it is hilariously appropriate that this is NOT the first time that this has occurred.

    I Also think that its a heinous waste, maybe the parents can actually make an effort to recycle toys, instead of just dropping them off for someone else to play (deal with) we really need ALL those GD toys to be repurchased only to end up in a landfill?

  • BrassyMomma June 9, 2016 (10:53 am)

    The city won’t do a think about the garbage, needles, and trash in our community, but they round-up some well-used/well-loved toys that aren’t truly doing any harm?

    Bloody idiots. I am so sad to see this.

  • 2 Much Whine June 9, 2016 (10:57 am)

    Lots of great points on both sides of the toy debate.  So many comments about how the parks department chooses to selectively enforce one rule or another and why don’t they do something about off leash dogs and needles and the like.  Think about it!  The parks department must receive complaints every day.  Each and every day someone, somewhere is expecting them to fix society and get people to leash their dogs, stop doing heroin and leaving needles in the park, stop vandalism and graffiti, stop chasing geese, stop peeing in the grass.  These are all things that require a change to society as a whole and unless the perpetrators are caught in the act would require massive amounts of monitoring and control.  They finally get a request to clean up some old toys (which is something they can actually take action on for once) and they are vilified for it.  I like the park and don’t have a horse in this race but what could the parks department do that would satisfy everyone – they will be hated by one group if they leave the toys and another group if they take them.  Maybe they should build a wall around the park to keep the kids out so they won’t get hurt.  They could get the toy manufacturers to fund it. . . . .

  • KBear June 9, 2016 (1:13 pm)

    It was sort of cute when toys first started showing up in the park, but it has gotten out of hand. It has gone from a small collection of toys to what must be hundreds. It’s an eyesore, and it’s got to be a nuisance when they try to do any kind of maintenance at the park. The parents who are leaving toys there have only themselves to blame for this situation. This is not the Parks Department’s fault. If the parents can’t figure out some way to keep it under control themselves, periodic toy purgings are perfectly appropriate. Maybe they should take all the toys next time. It’s not as though the parents haven’t had plenty of time to work this out, it’s been going on for years.

    • Chemist June 9, 2016 (3:24 pm)

      Yeah, this looks like over a few dozen large toys and there’s not exactly a great system of disposing of broken/worse-off toys. Maybe the parents need to form a toy oversight group, akin to the walking on logs maintainers.

  • MiddleClassicist June 9, 2016 (2:17 pm)

    If you like graffiti, broken bottles and hypodermic needles but hate children’s toys that have a wobbly wheel the City of Seattle is all over it.

    This city has such screwed up priorities it’s amazing. The toys at that park are a part of its covenant. They are what makes it special and unique. The parents that use it can and should haul away toys no longer suitable for play. It would only take 1 trip to the transfer station a month if you organized a clean-up day.

    When we leave it up to the city, we can only expect bad/indifferent decision-making.

    BTW: If that online petition doesn’t work out, you can always try sitting on your butt and not doing something else.

    • WSB June 9, 2016 (2:20 pm)

      Might “work out.” Parks has reached out to parents and talks are or will be under way. Update later this afternoon.

  • Mary June 9, 2016 (3:44 pm)

    I see two sides to this story.  There have always been toys at Ercolini and that has made the park very special to the community.  It was my experience that not all the toys were in the best shape but most were safe for all children.  It seems that if parents in the community are committed to keeping toys in the park that they form a co-op like association, that includes working with the Seattle Parks and Recreation, setting shared guidelines for what types of toys are safe and acceptable for the park as well as a sun-setting plan for the toys as they reach the end of their life.  I bet all needs could be met with some cooperation on the part of both parties. Good luck to all as you negotiate your needs for an ever growing community.

  • SouthAlkiFamily June 9, 2016 (6:44 pm)

    We can understand the complaints about the problems and concerns of the toys strewn about in the park.  How about teaching the “little ones” to put the toys away in a designated area.  We are sure (lol) that the parents that use this park have their children put their toys away at home.  If this presents too much of a problem, how about the parents picking up after the children (to often the case).  If you have a dog, you are expected to pick up after.  Is it asking too much of the children or parents to pickup after themselves.  We also understand that this has become a nice social outlet for the parents as well as the children.  It should continue, but it is asking too much of an already overburdened parks department to sort the good toys from the bad.  

  • The only mom happy about this? June 9, 2016 (9:59 pm)

    I have a 4.5 yr old and a 1.5yr old. Even though this park is the closest to me and most age appropriate for my kids I stopped going to Ercolini because the place became SO crowded with broken useless toys! Younger kids can’t run around on the paved areas because of this and the grassy area has a drainage issue- always has random  giant spots that are soggy & muddy. For a while I went regularly enough to know that the toys weren’t worn down as a result of being out in the elements. Instead these toys are being dropped off in terrible, useless condition by people too lazy to dispose of them properly. I would love it if the parks continued to regulate this or better yet if people stopped bringing toys. I would definitely go back there more often. 

  • Josh on 50th June 17, 2016 (11:25 am)

    This is a kids playground. Any adult can easily make their way to another park if they don’t like what Ercolini provides to the kids in our neighborhood. A tripping hazard? Watch where you’re going, ya stinkin killjoy! If you haven’t heard, kids have small attention spans, and don’t like to share… Those toys provide a little kiddy utopia. You don’t like it? Fine. GO SOMEWHERE ELSE! Don’t assign grownup feelings to little kids. Both of my kids LOVE this park. You think they care if a tricycle has a wobbly wheel, or a little rust? I wish people would seriously just find something better to do than whine about kids toys… AT A KIDS PLAYGROUND!

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