Rusted and exposed: Cleveland park's playground angers concerned parents

CLEVELAND - Years of use and exposure to the elements have left the playgrounds at a popular neighborhood park on Cleveland’s far west side rusted and rough around the edges. Concerned by the exposed and corroded metal stairs and zip-tied playground pieces, park-goers believe it is only a matter of time before a child gets hurt.

Located in the 3000 block of West 153rd Street, Impett Park is nestled in a large neighborhood in West Park. On Tuesday afternoon dozens of kids were running, jumping, screaming and laughing as they navigated the decades-old playground equipment. Parents like Sheila Terbrack, however, are far less enthusiastic about the condition of that equipment. 

Terbrack’s young daughter, Colette, took her first steps at the park. Her daughter’s favorite words are ‘park’ and ‘swing.’ Impett Park is beyond special for their family and that’s what makes the condition of the equipment so disappointing, she said.

“The state of the equipment on this park is beyond disappointing. I think it’s becoming a liability for the city at this point,” Terbrack said. “I can’t let her play independently. I can’t take the risk as a mom of her getting hurt on this equipment. I need someone to do something about it.”

She’s not alone. A post on the neighborhood Facebook page garnered dozens of responses, a majority of which expressed concern and dismay about the equipment. On the smaller of the two playgrounds, the protective plastic coating on the playground stairs has peeled away, exposing the rusted metal underneath. The same could be said for the larger playground as well.

One of the pieces on the larger playground is held together with a series of plastic zip ties. 

It’s not just the equipment either. The basketball court doesn’t have any basketball hoops. Many spaces on the swing set don’t contain swings. The cushioned surface of the playgrounds is cratered and cracked.

“I know a lot of people that will bring their kids up here and they try to let them go on the equipment but they just go home,” Terbrack said. “For us, it’s our place to get away. We still come. We come and we’re hopeful that something is going to be different. It’s dangerous right now.”

Councilman Martin Keane said the park is certainly on his radar. He told News 5 Tuesday afternoon that repairing the park’s playground equipment is a priority as part of an upcoming bond package. However, that bond package has not been presented to City Council for a vote yet, he said.

The park has also been listed as a priority in past years, he said.

Last year, the city renovated Impett Park’s bathrooms and concession stands, in addition to creation of a new football field. The project cost $400,000, city officials said.

On Tuesday, the bathrooms were locked. The nearby tennis courts were also recently re-painted. Terbrack believes the resources spent on those projects should have been directed toward the playground.

“I think that the playground equipment should have been a priority. It’s the most used thing up here,” Terbrack said. “This is what kids come up here to play with. It’s not in an acceptable condition right now.”

For its part, the community has planned a neighborhood clean-up day for mid-June. While the neighborhood won’t be able to fix the equipment, organizers say they will at least do their best to rid the park of trash and other debris.

After this story aired on News 5 at 5, city spokeswoman Latoya Hunter said repairs will be made to the park beginning May 18th. Hunter also said city workers did not secure the playground railing with zip ties. City crews will properly bolt the playground equipment on May 18th as well, Hunter said.

Later this month, previously-scheduled surface replacement of the playground will take place, according to Hunter.

In 2016, a city assessment of all city parks was conducted. Hunter said since then, $5 million in park improvements has been allocated.

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