by BILL CLEARY
(cnbnews.net)The appalling condition of the Fort Nassau playground, Johnson Blvd, Gloucester City was highlighted in the November Cheer and Jeer column. The resident mentioned the missing railings, the graffiti, and the trash etc.
CNBNews first reported on the conditions of the Fort Nassau playground on September 2, 2006. Below is part of that story.
The playground at the Johnson Blvd jogging track was constructed in April 1999 using donations from the business community along with the hard work of over 100 volunteers. It took four days to build and when completed it was a site to behold. However, just seven years later the Fort is showing wear and neglect.
Over $100,000 was received in donations.
Something should be done now to fix the problems before it becomes too late, if not already. Rest assure those who donated their time, sweat, and hard work along with financial assistance won't be pleased when they view the present conditions of the structure.
To those who feel CNBNews is being too critical about the problems at some of our city's playgrounds; what is your answer to correct this situation? Are we to turn our backs and pretend the lack of maintenance is acceptable? If that is your answer CNBNews doubts the majority of city residents would agree with you.
Our goal is to work along with the government in their quest to "Enhance the City's Image." After all this is our community too. The citizens have a right to question why some playgrounds are not being maintained properly. We all have a right to ask, no an obligation to demand, that those in charge be held responsible for not doing their job.
On February 6, 2007 newly elected Mayor William James, was asked if he had time to decide what to do with the site. James said, “The original idea to construct it was good but another site should have been chosen. It was built on a landfill. In recent years the pilings have started to sink. To make upgrades would cost between $7,000 and $11,000. In the not too distance future there will be some Brown Fields environmental work in that area. Then there is the problem with vandals. We had a guard patrol the playground between the hours of 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. and the juvenile delinquents were still finding ways to destroy it."
Continuing he said, “The problems to keep it are just too many. We are discussing a plan to fix up Martins Lake park at Baynes, Sparks and Brown Streets. We have new equipment to put there already, it would be easier to maintain, and easier to protect from vandals. We are still talking about it, but a decision will be made soon.”
In the spring of 2007 Mayor and Council met with some of the people who built the fort. In May 2007 City workers erected some new playground equipment and removed part of the run-down structure. However, after that work was finished, the fort was still an eyesore. What changed the Mayor’s mind from demolishing it altogether was never explained.
CNBNEWS feels the time has come to tear the structure down. No doubt many will be upset with our suggestion. But it is obvious it needs too much work and money to bring it up to code. It is an eyesore and it is not safe for our children to play there.
One further thought, before 2003 pressure treated wood contained a chemical known as chromate copper arsenate (CCA). Warnings about the dangers of this material have been floating about for years. It is unknown whether or not that type of wood was used to build the Fort Nassau playground (constructed in 1999). If it was that is one more reason why it should be demolished.
Reducing exposure to arsenic from CCA-treated playground equipment
- It is difficult to distinguish CCA-treated wood from non-CCA-treated wood. A call to the playset manufacturer might help determine if the playset contains CCA-treated wood. Since the 1970's the majority of the pressure-treated wood used in residential settings was treated with CCA. Therefore, if you are not sure if the playset is composed of CCA-treated wood, you should assume it is.
- Parents and caregivers should be aware that children are exposed to arsenic through their hand-to-mouth activity while playing on and after playing on CCA-treated wood playsets. To minimize the risk of exposure to arsenic from CCA-treated playsets, parents and caregivers should thoroughly wash the child’s hands with soap and water immediately after outdoor play, especially before eating. Children should also be discouraged from eating while on CCA-treated playgrounds.
- Based on limited data, some groups suggest that applying certain penetrating coatings such as oil-based, semi-transparent stains on a regular basis (once a year or every other year depending upon wear and weathering) may reduce the amount of arsenic that comes out of the wood.
LINKS TO BOTH REPORTS ARE HIGHLIGHTED ABOVE. We reached out to Mayor James, Councilmen Brophy and Marchese for their thoughts on this problem. As of today we are still waiting for their response.
To share your thoughts on this topic comment below or email CNBNEWS@verizon.net .
RELATED: Some CNBNEWS published articles regarding the Fort Nassau playground, beginning in 2006