Buzzards Bay Playground Inspection

An inspection of improvements to the Buzzards Bay Park playground was conducted last week.

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.”

(10) comments


Very happy the process of attempting more safety measures and re opening this great asset is happening now. The poor little two year old paid the price for sure...and nothing can make up for that sad accident. Its good enough to try to have regulations and get everything right, but the facts are accidents will and do happen. Nothing can assure complete safety. Kids run and jump and turn and fall at times. Its part of their learning too. The selectmen and town made great strides toward a good thing. I applaude the admins and boards for not giving up on the park. The new village will prosper and be wonderful if we stay the course.


This is really great dialogue!...I don't want to stop development in Buzzard's Bay(which is great name for this village), Just pause and get a better sense of what's needed and how/what is possible... Try googling : The Master Plan/How Stuff Works...You wouldn't build a subdivision w/o a plan of street/buildings layouts on paper...It's actually the law.. I think Buzzards Bay could be something really unique and special...This is the time to really
dig deep and get it right...I'm sure the 2 developers who have already started, would be on board with bringing in a village master plan specialist for advice...After all we built them a wastewater treatment plant and spent $millions on a big park makeover.
We have serious issues to work around: velocity zone flooding, challenging traffic patterns (that are being studied), Shouldn't we try to coordinate development around all that? Many decades have gone by since Buzzards Bay started..All of Bourne was part of Sandwich until late 1800's! Let's try a scenario :what if we could start from scratch...and see what a village like that could look like...We've spent money on plenty.(see last Town Meeting). Maybe the 2 current developers would be willing to pitch in and split the cost of a specialist with the town...If you were lost while driving to a destination, you would pull over and check a map..oops we don't have a map.(.I know about gps)..S.Goldstein ,(concerned citizen also)


I hope the town didn't pay allot of money for this audit. A rating of 1 because of near by traffic, shading for the slide? Seriously, are these Federal guidelines for playgrounds in this day & age? I think the biggest deficit was not having town supervision while the playground was open. As far as these other items, I don't think the town got there money's worth.


It might be useful to delve into the difference between a Town Administrator and a Town Manager. I believe that a Town Administrator works under the direct supervision of the Board of Selectmen,who retain statutory authority...There may be differences under different Charters....Maybe the collective "we" need to slow down and think things through a little better. If that means hiring outside "specialists" from time to the beginning or during a large be it..Nobody can be expert in everything...You just have to know that maybe you don't know....
Sandra Goldstein,resident/selectboard candidate


It may be true that the selectmen should not be the ones overseeing any town project for any reason, that is why the citizens of Bourne are paying a nice salary to the Town Administrator and his various departments to do these jobs . The town will pay a heavy price for this over site as I am sure the insurance cost just went up for this lack of oversite and due dilligence . Just like what is going on under the Bourne bridge where a railroad platform has been installed by the owners of the Railroad Is the man doing his job for the town or does he care at all on what is going on in his town ?

R Gratis

The Selectboard does not, and should not, babysit every single project. If you read the Town Charter, Selectmen/women are part-time elected officials whose primary duties are to focus on policy and procedures. The Town Administrator's job is to oversee day-to-day operations of the town, and projects like these are not assiged Owner's Project Managers to oversee construction. The fault, in my opinion, lies with whoever designed the playground and whoever approved the playground for not paying attention to the requirements.

That being said, I applaud the every person's efforts in the aftermath of this unfortunate situation, so this park could reopen and bring a unique feature that was requested by our town's residents.


The select-board should have known to vet the " playground/waterpark"thoroughly.
Safety of children and fiduciary responsibility always come before "cheerleading"
for yet to be completed development. They should have hired Nancy White for one hour. Time for serious, responsible, and mindful people on the Select Board!
Sandra Goldstein, Bourne resident


There is a lot more to “story” behind what happened at the park last year. You seem to be putting all the blame on the Selectmen..Where In your opinion does the Town Manager play a role in this?


The Selectboard does not know what it doesn't know! Nobody was paying any attention to the safety of the children or how they were spending other people's money.
They should have hired Nancy White for an hour before doing anything. Outrageous! Sandra Goldstein, Selectboard Candidate


First, you do not have my vote... Second, maybe you should know some facts behind the incident at the park before blasting the selectmen, for which you want to be a part of.....Also answer this Ms. Goldstein, why would you want to stop growth in Buzzards Bay??

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