The board of selectmen has released the contents of a safety audit ordered to be done in the aftermath of a young girl being seriously hurt at the new Buzzards Bay Park playground last summer.
The report outlines ways in which the playground falls short in terms of recommended safety procedures to be followed.
During an executive session in early March, the selectmen unanimously approved a motion to keep the safety audit confidential.
But at the start of the board’s meeting Tuesday night, May 14, Bourne Town Counsel Robert S. Troy announced that a motion had been unanimously approved by the board members during an earlier executive session to release the redacted version of the safety audit.
“The motion was made to waive the doctrine of attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine relating to a redacted playground audit regarding the Buzzards Bay playground,” Mr. Troy said.
The safety audit was ordered in the wake of the playground’s being shut down last July. A 2-year-old girl suffered a severe cut to the small toe on one of her feet. The toe was ultimately amputated. The incident occurred on July 10, 2018, and the playground has been closed since.
Shortly after the accident involving the little girl, a certified playground safety expert, Nancy White, was hired to conduct a full review of the play area. Ms. White did her review of the playground on July 19 and 21, 2018.
She then reported to the board of selectmen last November that the playground appeared to be deficient, relative to federal and state law regarding the Americans With Disabilities Act. The report rates various aspects of the playground, including equipment, materials, design and location, on a 1 to 5 scale.
A rating of 1 means the condition should be corrected immediately; 2 means correction should be done as soon as possible; 3 means correct it when time permits; 4 suggests correcting, if the condition gets worse; and 5 recommends ongoing maintenance.
Within the 28-page report, the area of concern that received ratings of 1 had to do with the playground’s location. The report gave a rating of 1 to the category “Streets with heavy traffic.”
“Heavy traffic during the summer months at this site. There are no signs, flashing lights, etc. indicating there is a playground/park in the area,” the report stated.
A rating of 1 was similarly attributed to the category “Signs on all bordering streets advise motorists that a playground is nearby.” The report noted the stone sign with the name of the park on it, but said “it is easily missed and not easily seen. Poor sign visibility.”
Ratings of 2 were given to several notations in the report dealing with signage. The audit stated that the playground fell short of warning about hot play surfaces; age appropriateness for play items; that adult supervision is recommended; and that items such as helmets and drawstrings should be removed, due to strangulation risk.
The playground’s slide was given a 2 rating for its not being shaded. The surface could get very hot sitting out in the open sun, and cause burns, the report suggested.
The report also gave a rating of 2 to the metal edging that separates the play surface from paved areas. The report cautioned that the edging could cause a tripping hazard. Also, the metal is rusting.
On Tuesday night, playground project manager Wayne Del Pico told the board that the suggested corrections “are very close to being complete.” Mr. Del Pico assured the selectmen that the playground will meet its projected opening date of next Friday, May 24.
“The goal of the project was to correct issues in the earlier audit by [the Certified Playground Safety Inspector] for the town, and to address safety concerns,” he said. “I’m here to tell you that by the time the playground opens, they will be complete.”