As local residents and service groups step forward to offer money and help to replace $250,000 in playground equipment condemned by an insurance inspector, Mayor William Murphy is searching for another insurer.
The village is holding out hope that some equipment can be modified rather than replaced, which would bring the overall price tag down. Building and Grounds Superintendent George Terpening said he walked the grounds of the Seamon Park, Lions Club (at Cantine Field) and Village Beach playgrounds with a local insurance inspector who said the village might be able to get by improving the “landing areas” of some of the equipment and upgrading other items, rather than replacing the whole kit and caboodle.
“We are stuck in the middle; we know that we are going to have to replace some stuff,” Terpening said.
The village signed with New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal (NYMIR) last year after former carrier Trident Insurance dropped the village’s policy for too many claims, most of those for damage caused by DPW snow plows. (There weren’t any claims relating to the playgrounds.) A NYMIR inspector subsequently declared essentially all equipment at the three village playgrounds unsafe. The equipment had been grandfathered in under the old Trident policy, but after being dropped, the village won’t be able to find a new policy that would insure the playgrounds as is — even if Trident took it back. The hope is that it can find an insurer who won’t declare everything unsafe.
Terpening, who is in the process of preparing his department’s annual budget, said he’s putting some money in for new equipment, but the majority of the cost will have to come from donations. He said he’s been approached by a number of individuals and some larger groups looking to donate to the cause. The Sons of the American Legion has offered money and help as well, said the mayor.
One plan under consideration is to replace most of the equipment at the Village Beach and Lions Club park — because they are the most widely used — and get rid of the equipment at Seamon Park.
But residents who live near Seamon Park are concerned about that. Some think if the equipment is removed, it will become a teen hangout and an unsafe place for smaller children to play.
Terpening noted that the new company NYMIR wants to see new kid-safe playground equipment, like that installed recently at Cahill Elementary School. Fundraising for just that one playground took several years. In the village’s case, multiply that by three: That’s a whole lot of bake sales.