Small School Playground Causes Controversy

By: KAKE News Email
By: KAKE News Email

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Friday, October 8, 2010

A Wichita school may have to shut down its playground, after receiving complaints from neighbors who say the playground is a distraction and a nuisance.

For adults, the playground equipment may not mean much. For kids, the slide, swing, and fort are a gateway to their imaginations.

"They need gross motor skills, they need to be able to use their upper body strength to develop those skills, as well as their academic skills they get in the classroom," said Kimberly Fielding, Administrator, Branches Academy.

In just a few weeks, kids at Branches Academy, a private elementary school in Northwest Wichita, may not have those opportunities.

'It's been communicated to us that our playground here for our new school is an unattractive nuisance. It reduces the property value, it blocks the view of the pond, and it's a privacy issue. We've been told it has to be removed by October 29," said Fielding.

The playground was installed just three months ago. Permission was given to Fielding by the property owner.

Several feet away from the playground is the building where the complaints are coming from. That building is owned by another individual.

Next to the playground is a dental office. On the other end of the building is Fielding's other school, Honey Tree Academy. That school's playground has been intact for four years without any complaints.

"It's a little disappointing in the community we've been a part of for the last four years and in this association area that some people would have a problem with the fact that there's a playground here," said Fielding.

Fielding said it is not just a matter of playtime. If not solved, the issue could hurt the future of the school.

"We would love to keep the playground. We need to keep the playground to stay in business and to keep the kids to play," said Fielding.

Fielding said moving the playground to a spot behind the school is a possibility. That space is owned by the Chadsworth Plaza Building Association. Fielding said they have not been cooperating.

Phone calls to members of that association, and the dental office have not been returned.

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