MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

May 24, 2013

Council hears complaint over height of park fence

Resident says Ruby Park basketball court safety fence inadequate

Fence issues divided city councilors and a frequent critic who believes fencing at basketball courts in two city parks provide inadequate protection for those who use the facilities.

The issue has festered since second-phase work at Ruby Park was completed. The work included new basketball courts with a safety fence built too low to stop errant balls from bouncing into an adjacent street.

A neighborhood association paid for the erection of a higher fence, but the quality of the work disappointed the organization’s president. Frequent complaints have been a regular part of city meetings since then, prompting Ward III Councilor Randy Howard to place the issue on this week’s Public Works Committee agenda.

“We’ve had many — actually one complaint many times about this,” Howard said about the fence issue. “I went with the citizen to look at that and didn’t see any problems.

Those complaints were lodged by Ivory Vann, who, along with other members of the Robison Park Community Association, spurred development of what later was renamed Ruby Park. The association paid to replace a 4-foot chain-link fence that separated a new basketball court from an adjacent street with an 8-foot fence, but Vann complained about the quality of the work.

Vann says his primary concern is for the safety of Muskogee’s youth. He said he has seen errant balls even bounce past the higher fence. But he acknowledges the fact private residents had to pay for what the city should have done also bothers him.

“If you pay for something you would expect them (city officials) to go out there and make sure the work was done right,” Vann said. “But they won’t even do that.”

Howard told his colleagues Tuesday he had driven by both parks this past weekend to investigate Vann’s complaints. Howard said the only problem he saw was the accumulation of trash along those fences.

“If there is a serious problem out there, it needs to be addressed,” Howard said about his request to have the item placed on the Public Works Committee agenda. “But I don’t see a problem.”

Ward II Councilor Dan Hall joined Howard with his assessment that the fencing provides adequate protection to Muskogee’s youth. Only Ward IV Councilor Wayne Johnson publicly acknowledged the fence at Ruby Park should have been built higher the first time.

Vann urged caution, saying councilors may not be so quick to dismiss his criticisms if a child ever gets hurt while chasing a ball into the street.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

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