October 26, 2010

Play Haters! "Playground is blocking my view"

Play HaterWe think a playground is a beautiful sight to behold. But apparently not everyone shares our perspective. In Wichita, Kans., the owner of Branches Academy, a private kindergarten through second-grade school, is being told she must remove the school's brand-new playground.

Why? Because it’s… ugly. Well, maybe not ugly: The playground itself is actually quite attractive, with an intentional green and brown color scheme that blends in with the surroundings (see photos in The Wichita Eagle). But nearby owners of the Chadsworth Plaza are up in arms over the “blight” on their view of a nearby pond.

Branches Academy owner Kimberly Fielding received permission from her landlord to build the play structure. But neither she nor her landlord asked permission of surrounding property owners, violating the office park’s bylaws. Fielding says her landlord did not think permission was necessary because other businesses have made outdoor additions, including benches and a storage shed, without going to the association.

Neighbors argue that the playground lowers property values, and they want it taken down by October 29. No matter that the children who attend the school will no longer have a place to play. Fielding told ABC’s KAKE-TV Channel 10, "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."

Tough luck, kids. Your gross motor skill development—not to mention your social, emotional, and cognitive development—is getting in the way of a nice view.

UPDATE: The landowners have reached an agreement to move the play structure behind the school rather than get rid of it entirely. The children at Branches Academy will get to keep their playground, and neighbors will get to keep their view.

Help us ensure that ALL children get the space and time to play! Take action today at SavePlay.org.

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