Stratford Landing ES Playground Shut Down by FCPS Facilities
The first phase of a new playground at Stratford Landing was shut down recently.
Over the last three years, the Stratford Landing PTA has worked hard to raise $55,000 for playground improvements.
After selecting a design that was met with approval from the Fairfax County Public Schools Facilities Department, this summer the PTA moved forward with installing the first phase of the playground – a new track and climber.
The first phase opened to students on Nov. 9. But now, it is roped off and unusable.
Officials from Fairfax County Public Schools did not respond to a request for comments about the playground.
After installing the first part of the playground, the PTA decided to move forward with the next phase of improvements and called FCPS to get the name of a contractor to inspect the playground.
However, when the inspector arrived, PTA members were met with a surprise.
“He told us he was the only authorized vendor for Fairfax County to install playground equipment,” PTA member Sara Powell said. “The next day, the playground was wrapped in caution tape and off limits to the kids.”
The PTA took action. They asked the manufacturing company to weigh in. The manufacturer reportedly disagreed with county’s requirement and sent a detailed, point-by-point rebuttal.
According to Powell, Fairfax County told them it still didn’t meet their playground safety guidelines and had to come out. The PTA requested Fairfax County provide those specific guidelines, and, according to Powell, they have yet to receive the document.
Last week the PTA met with FCPS. They were told that there were deficiencies and the playground needed to be disassembled, Powell said.
“Their solution is they’ll rip it out and put a new playground in,” Powell said. “They have not committed any money yet. Why is this $35,000 piece of equipment given to the county just going to be thrown away?”
The situation may turn around for the Stratford Landing PTA thanks to the help of Mount Vernon School Board representative Dan Storck, who attended Tuesday night’s PTA meeting.
“The FCPS Facilities department has acknowledged that upgrades to the Stratford Landing playground are necessary in order to accommodate the current school population of 877 students and is working with the school to make that happen,” Powell said in an email to Patch. “There is no immediate plan to remove the new equipment purchased by the PTA. School Board Member Dan Storck attended the Stratford Landing PTA meeting last night to discuss the situation and is committed to working actively to help the PTA achieve a positive resolution with the county.