Troubleshooter: Dangerous playground

September 17, 2010 5:34:29 PM PDT
A school is Cary is stuck with a dangerous playground students are unable to use.The playground isn't supposed to be used just for recess, it's meant to be an important learning tool for the students at the Mariposa School for Children with Autism.

The school paid more than $10,000 for the playground with the hopes it would provide years of instruction for their students.

"The kids love to be outside and the kids just don't understand that they can't play on the playground," said Mariposa School Executive Director Jacqueline Gottlieb. "Four out of the six platform pieces right here on this piece are cracked."

Since December, the playground has been off-limits because of all the problems.

"This is the most significant problem this is where the child fell," Gottlieb said. "So these platforms were flat when the child climbed on this equipment, and then his weight pushed it down."

Since the playground is under a limited lifetime warranty, Gottlieb contacted the manufacturer Progressive Design Playgrounds, but didn't get good news.

"They came back and said it wasn't installed correctly," she said.

So Gottlieb got in touch with the installers, Reese Construction.

"The contractors came out and dug the holes and they said to us that they installed it correctly," she said.

Meanwhile the playground continued to be off limits, which didn't help the learning process for students at Mariposa.

"It's tremendously important," Gottlieb said. "We teach them motivation, we're teaching communication, so whenever a child doesn't have communication or starting to ask for things, it's critical to get that piece of equipment right there, right then."

So, ABC11 Eyewitness News I-Team Troubleshooter Diane Wilson got in touch with Progressive Design Playgrounds.

A representative said their playgrounds do carry a limited lifetime warranty and when installed properly should last a lifetime. But since Progressive Design Playgrounds was not involved in the original installation, after reviewing the warranty claim, they determined Mariposa's equipment was installed improperly. They provided three options to Mariposa School, but all require the school to pay for the replacement parts.

Wilson then got in touch with the company that installed the playground.

A rep with Reese Construction says that they stand behind their installation and the problems Mariposa is facing is with the equipment itself and should be handled under warranty with Progressive Playground designed. With both parties blaming each other, Mariposa is stuck in the middle.

"For a non-profit that's struggling to make sure we're keeping our tuition low but we're making the payments on all of our bills, because we have our business too it's really frustrating that the kids can't play on the equipment for fear of falling or getting injured," Gottlieb said.

Now they're turning to the community, hoping donors come forward to get the playground fixed that is so vital to these students learning process at Mariposa.

Both Reese Construction and Progressive Playground say they sympathize with Mariposa's problems and have offered fixes, but all cost money, and both say they don't feel they should pay for them as both blame each other for the problems.

With Mariposa stuck in the middle, they're just turning to the community right now for their help as they say the playground is such a key teaching role in the development of their students.

To learn more about Mariposa School visit www.mariposaschool.org.

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