PORTLAND – Some neighbors and parents were surprised to see caution tape around a popular play structure in Northwest Portland Tuesday.
The 40-year-old play structure in Couch Park, at Northwest 20th Avenue, was closed Tuesday, after an independent engineering firm studying the structure for the city detailed safety concerns, according to Mark Ross with Portland Parks and Recreation.
PP&R owns the aging castle-like structure and has been concerned about its condition for years. Officials said it’s unsound, dangerous and beyond repair. But there’s no money to replace it.
That was a hard pill for some local parents to swallow. The structure is used by students at neighboring Multnomah Learning Center K-12 school and sits on school district land.
“Since the city has come in and said it’s unsafe, we have to follow their recommendations,” said Portland Public Schools spokeswoman Christine Miles. “Nobody wants anybody to be hurt. It’s a play structure, it’s beautiful, the kids love it, but it’s not safe. We have to do the right thing.”
Dulane Moran with the MLC Parent/Teacher/Student Association said parents and neighbors were upset they weren’t notified and that plans to take down the structure were "unacceptable."
“MLC students and staff designed the original play structure,” said Moran in a letter to Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “We have serious concerns that decisions about the play structure will be made without notifying and engaging the MLC Community of parents, children, staff and…neighborhood community.”
Ross admitted that PP&R would have liked for this to have played out different, but with safety as the main concern, the city was pressing on.
A construction fence was set to be installed Tuesday. Ross said the structure would be carefully removed at a later date.