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Safety issue puts end to spidery climbs

Plastic fencing cordons off a new piece of equipment at Windom Elementary School's playground, keeping children from climbing on the Webscapes Aquarius netting.

The ropelike webbing that had children scampering up and down like Spider-Man has been deemed too dangerous.

"After we had it installed, our insurance company reviewed it and . . . had some concerns with the height of it," said Jeffrey R. Petrus, assistant school superintendent for business and support services in the Orchard Park district.

The piece has netting connected to a pole in the center, but the pole is 20 feet tall, he said.

"It wasn't in question at all prior to installation. They showed how it met all the standards," Petrus said.

There are industry standards for safe playground equipment and the type and amount of cushion material on the ground that should be used to prevent injury.

A picture in a catalog does not give the full effect, Petrus said. He said that until the equipment was installed, it was not possible to realize its full height and the potential for falling. No children have been injured on the piece, he said.

Petrus said Miracle Recreation, supplier of the equipment, told the district that it had not installed the large piece at other locations.

"It is a 20-foot-tall piece. It raised the safety questions with it," Petrus said. "We're trying to get this piece removed and a new piece in place."

He said representatives from the district, its insurance company and the Parent-Teacher Organization plan to meet with the company in the next several weeks. "We're doing our due diligence and seeing what can be done," Petrus said, "hopefully at no cost to the district."


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