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Broken Slide at Grand Crossing Playground Not Sitting Well with Parents

By Wendell Hutson | May 30, 2013 8:21am | Updated on May 30, 2013 12:09pm
 A broken slide at a playground operated by Chicago Public Schools has parents worried about their children's safety.
Broken Slide next to Ruggles Elementary
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CHATHAM — Not long after arriving Wednesday at a South Side playground with his grandmother, 3-year-old Pierre Moore hurt his leg playing on a broken slide.

"Help! I'm stuck grandma. I can't move," Pierre shouted as his grandmother rushed to his aid. "My leg hurt grandma."

His grandmother, Cartheria Williams, 60, quickly helped Pierre get loose from the 7-foot slide that parents said has been broken for almost a year.

"I didn't know this slide was broke like this. There should be sign up letting people know. My baby could have seriously hurt himself," Williams said. "The only reason we came here today is because I had an errand to run across the street and my grandson begged me to bring him here. I will be speaking to the school tomorrow about this."

The playground is adjacent to Martha Ruggles Elementary School, 7831 S. Prairie Ave. in Greater Grand Crossing, and is on Chicago Public Schools' property, said Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th).

"I found out yesterday about that slide and reported it to CPS," Sawyer said. "No one told me about it before. Not [Local School Council] members or the school."

Ruggles Principal Ida Patterson, was unavailable for comment.

But an office worker at Ruggles who identified herself as Ms. Brown said "Our engineers have already done what needs to be done in order for the slide to be fixed."

She added that there is a process the school must follow to get the slide fixed, and it starts with CPS.

CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll was not immediately available for comment.

Whatever the CPS repair protocol is, it's not being followed, parents said.

"I can't believe [CPS] would let this slide sit this long without fixing it," said Lawanda Mathews, 26, a Ruggles alum who routinely takes her two children, ages 3 and 5, to the playground.

"I have been living in Chatham my whole life, and I bring my kids here all the time, but never knew this slide looked like this. Most parents sit on the bench and chill, not really paying attention to the equipment here. We trust that it is safe for kids to play here, otherwise [the playground] would be closed."

The broken slide is not in plain view from the playground entrance or the benches where parents like Sylvia Timmons, 35, sit while her 9-year-old son Savion plays.

"I never would have known about the slide, sitting way back here listening to my music. I know now, and you can bet my son won't be playing on that slide until it is fixed," Timmons said.

On the east side of Ruggles is a playground with no broken equipment. And it is where children attending Just Like Home Daycare, 301 E. 79th St., are taken to play. Instead of walking across the street to play, children ages 3 to 5 must walk a block to reach the other playground.

"It would be much easier if we could take them to the playground with the broken slide since it is closer," said Zakikeyyah Brown, director of the day care. "I don't think it takes this long to fix a plastic slide. I'm sure if this was taking place in Hyde Park or some affluent, white neighborhood, [the slide] would have been fixed right away."

Pierre, meanwhile, was unfazed by his ordeal on the broken slide, which left him with a slightly swollen left leg.

"Please grandma, can I play a little longer?" he asked.

Williams, though, instead took him home to ice his leg.