It has come to my attention after attending the Measure Z Oversight Committee and doing some research, that not one of the Tot-Lots in the city parks meets the minimum standards for depth and quality of fill material, along with maintenance as set for forth in the California Code of Regulations, Health and Safety Code Division 104. Environmental Health, Part 10. Recreational Safety, Chapter 4. Safe Recreational Land Use, Article 1. Playgrounds.
Section 115725. (a) All new playgrounds open to the public built by a public agency or any other entity shall conform to the playground-related standards set forth by the American Society for Testing and Materials and the playground-related guidelines set forth by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Looking at U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Handbook for Public Playground Safety guidelines Publication #325 (2010). Section 126.96.36.199 Loose-Fill Surfacing Material, when using a Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF) it is recommended that equipment supports be marked with a minimum fill level to aid in maintaining the original depth of material.
This task was completed by the County of Riverside at the time of installation of the equipment in the Tot-Lot. Upon close observation over the weekend it has been observed and pictures posted on the internet that not a single decal that has been affixed for the purpose of noting the minimum depth of fill required is close to being covered or approached. Some of these decals are exposed by a couple of inches and others are exposed by almost a foot. By not meeting these minimum standards the risk of serious injury in a fall increases exponentially placing serious liability at the footstep of the city.
When digging down into the loose-fill material one reaches a cloth barrier, this barrier separates the loose-fill from the drainage field, one finds approximately 1 1/2 – 2 inches of completely decomposed wood material above this fabric which has no cushioning factor what so ever and should be removed before refill. This decomposed material is also wet and houses earthworms, signifying the possibility of a non-functioning drainage field which needs to be corrected. Without correction every winter several inches of fill material will become non-compliant and need to be replaced.
The risk of a child getting their head stuck under apparatuses increases with the reduced fill because areas that are not meant for play are exposed which could result in injury.
The lack of a maintenance schedule, which was made abundantly clear by statements at the Oversight Meeting, and can be seen in the unevenness of the surfaces in the Tot-Lots, plus the missing and broken hardware increases the probability of the city losing any litigation.
I am recommending that the City of Wildomar close off access to all the Tot-Lots immediately. I am also recommending that, by special session if necessary, a citizens committee be appointed to oversee the reworking of these Tot-Lots as the skills and the time allotted the part-time maintenance person or any other city staff is inadequate to complete the task in as short of time as possible. I am also recommending that no new equipment be installed in any Tot-Lot until such time as the deficiencies of each Tot-Lot is corrected and a certified inspection be completed and inspection sticker be affixed on a prominent place in each Tot-Lot.
Citizen of Wildomar
If anyone who has checked out the Tot-Lots agrees with the above you are encouraged to send the members of the City Council of Wildomar a similar letter. If you wish, you have my permission to use part or all of my letter. E-mail Address for the City Council Member are as follows.
Marsha Swanson, Mayor
Ben Benoit, Mayor Pro Tem
Bob Cashman, Council Member
Bridgette Moore, Council Member
Timothy Walker, Council Member