By REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — Unseasonably warm weather in the 40s and 50s would normally allow kids at Birchwood Elementary a short window to enjoy their playground before spring.
This year, however, that won’t be possible: the playground at Birchwood was wrapped in caution tape during the balmy weekend after Christmas, awaiting a maintenance crew to take it apart.
According to a letter to parents sent home to parents Dec. 18 by interim Superintendent John Yagielski, people in the school community were concerned about the state of the wood supports that hold the playground up.
“In response to questions raised about the wooden posts, I asked the school district’s insurance company to conduct a safety assessment of the playground,” the letter reads.
What they found may disappoint the schoolchildren, but it’s an important safety development: The posts, it turns out, are rotting beneath the soil. They’re too weak to reliably hold up the playground structures, especially since some repairs using concrete tubes have been made over the years.
According to the letter, the PTO had been planning to raise money for a new playground even before the damaged wood was discovered. Now, funds from the district may potentially be allotted to help speed the process.
“Providing what might be called a ‘fundamental’ playground is the district’s responsibility,’” the letter continues.
However, Yagielski notes, when the ground is frozen in the winter, students can’t play on the playground because the soft wood base becomes hard and therefore unsafe. He suggested by the time the ground thaws, the district may be nearly ready to replace the play set.