High winds overnight upended three canopies from the infant and toddler playgrounds at the Emeryville Child Development Center (ECDC) tossing one of the canopies into the Center's parking lot and destroying the covers on at least two of the canopies. No injuries have been reported.
The canopies were placed on the playgrounds over a year ago after an incident in which an infant suffered burns from the artificial play surface installed on the playgrounds during the latest playground remodel.
Parents expressed concerns about the artificial play surfaces during the playground remodel but were assured by City staff that they were safe and cost-effective. Once those assurances were proven wrong, City staff chose these canopies as a solution to prevent the artificial surfaces from over-heating.
Parents then asked that the canopies be replaced by a more permanent solution and for months were assured by now-retired Director of Community Services, Melinda Chinn, that the canopies were safe and secure.
Reached for comment, a parent that did not wish to be identified remarked, "This entire playground remodel was botched by City staff. They did not adequately involve either the teachers or the parents in the process and just gave us what they thought was best. I was one of those that thought the artificial surfaces were inappropriate for infants and toddlers. When these play surfaces were first installed they smelled horribly and it was obvious to me that they would get too hot in the sun. I have a novel idea: it's a play surface that's been used by kids for centuries and has proven extremely safe and effective. It's called GRASS and no canopies are required to make it suitable for kids to crawl around on. Maybe now they will finally rip these surfaces out, but we'll probably just get the canopies removed and then another child will get burned."
At the time of this article City staff could not be reached for comment on their future plans for ECDC's playgrounds.