By Briana Vannozzi
Instead of playful feet hopping around the jungle gym, sheets of orange net fencing surround this hamilton school playground.
“Well its upsetting that the kids have nothing to play on,” said Hamilton resident Kelly Piccinetti.
Playgrounds at all 17 elementary schools in the Hamilton Township district are closed. A safety inspector cited hazardous conditions at the Klockner Elementary School, prompting officials to shut them all down.
A 56-page report detailed the hazards; a desperate need for new safety surfacing, unsafe wear and tear like cracks in the slide and bolts sticking out.
“I’ve brought my kids and my niece and stuff like that over here during the summer to play and it’s never had any issue before it was shut down,” Piccinetti said. “Like I said, I use to let my kids, all three, play in the playground after school everyday for at least an hour.”
“While the decision to close the playgrounds was a difficult one, it was the only option available at this time to ensure the safety of our students and all Hamilton residents who use these facilities,” said a statement from the district website. NJTV News’ calls to the superintendent went unreturned, but the district says it considered the age and condition of the remaining equipment in its decision to close the playgrounds. The timing has parents a little ticked.
“I feel the township has bad management because if they can prioritize other things why can they not prioritize school? School is more important than having a shopping mall,” said mother Madrie Sukhraj.
Sukhraj says she didn’t know they were shut until she dropped off her son the first day.
“I didn’t have any notice and I didn’t get any information. I just read it in the newspaper headlines. Other than that I have no details about it,” she said.
“I am happy to see that they’re taking the precaution but like I said, maybe a little bit more swift with the school year starting.” said Piccinetti.
The report notes that nationwide there are 156,000 injuries annually on public playgrounds that require ER treatment.
It’s unclear right now when the district will receive the remaining reports, but these playgrounds will remain closed until the inspections either deem them safe or the necessary repairs are made.