Lee Elementary to expand playground into Paquin Park

Thursday, February 12, 2009 | 6:25 p.m. CST; updated 7:29 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 12, 2009

COLUMBIA — Lee Elementary School will expand its playground this spring into a small section of school property currently part of Paquin Park.

The project, which will include raised garden beds, native Missouri plants, a stage and a seating area, is being funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

"We want to make it as full of nature as possible," Lee Principal Teresa VanDover said.

Teachers from each grade level had some input for new features as well, VanDover said.

The school district will install a fence this spring to define the new boundary, but city park staff will maintain the fence. The new Lee playground will be open to the public during non-school hours.

"We really just want a safe setting for the kids," VanDover said.

Phil Steinhaus, chief executive officer of the Columbia Housing Authority, which manages Paquin Tower, said he's excited about the changes. He said there have been problems in the past with drug and alcohol use near the playground and that the expansion should curb that.

"Our residents (at Paquin Tower) like the raised gardens and the park but can be scared of homeless persons and others using that back area," Steinhaus said. "This change should improve the safety of the area because that section (of the park) was obscured from street view." 

At its Feb. 2 meeting, City Council asked that a formal agreement between the city and the school district be drafted. An agreement between the two would allow Paquin Tower residents to continue using a portion of school property that gives them access to the ADA entrance of Paquin Park's community gardens.

Jack Jensen, the school district's assistant superintendent for elementary education, said a memorandum of understanding should be ready soon.

The city and school district have a history of working together on combined parks and playgrounds.

Parks Services manager Mike Griggs called it "a great working relationship."

Jensen said the Lee-Paquin arrangement is evidence of that.

“It is another example of how, when (the school district and city) come together, playgrounds and parks can be improved,” Jensen said. 

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Charles Dudley Jr February 12, 2009 | 7:33 p.m.

Ya it is a perfect area of the park to that is rarely if ever used by anybody.

I am so glad they spared the Community Garden though because that is often times the only thing that some of the at risk residents find enjoyment in doing is their gardening each year.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr May 31, 2009 | 12:40 p.m.

Well so much for the new fence they installed between themselves and the park itself. Last night it was vandalized and a huge hole big enough to walk through was cut into the fence.

The brand new fence that the Lee School had erected behind their school that now separates Lee School From Paquin Park has been vandalized and compromised yesterday evening. think who ever vandalized the fence also cut the lock off of their gate on their East Fence line too.

I and another resident believe it to be due to young adults and the homeless populations that frequent the park drinking beer and allowing their dogs to run loose off of their leashes.

Here are the pictures.

This second hole here was never closed during the original fence installation.

My question is how much damage has to continue to public and city property for city officials to sit down together to stop all of this or to make Paquin Park a Zero Tolerance Zone for Alcohol?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro May 31, 2009 | 4:22 p.m.

@Big Bad Broken Ankle:

What makes you so sure that some third grader didn't chew his way through the fence to get back his ball out of the Paquin Park garden?

(When I first saw the manner in which that fence was built, I knew "some people" wouldn't like the fact that a short cut was taken away from them. This vandalism was only a matter of time and I would guess that any repairs to the hole will result in just another hole.)
No one asked me for my advice when the fence was being built, but I would have suggested an electrified fence, leaving access to the short cut or at the very least Park Ranger patrol to chase the bums away.
(Maybe Lee Elementary School needs to ask Superintendent Belcher for a couple of "Junkyard" attack dogs to discourage those evil people who lurk around the school yard with fence snippers. Heck, why even have a fence? Children should be allowed to roam free. It's not like we need to protect them from anything. What could possibly happen?)
Perhaps an access gate would be a simple solution. Something which could have been in place from the get-go...)

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr May 31, 2009 | 4:57 p.m.

No ray people these days just need to learn to have some respect for private,public and city property or if caught face the consequences.

The young groups of people who live around the area have none of the above at all. Yelling and screaming as well as throwing trash all over is not very respectable in such a quiet little park.

CPD in the near future will be getting alot of phone calls when residents of Paquin Tower see these type of behaviors going on. Residents are being asked to put the non emergency CPD number on their cell phone speed dial features.

Talking to the P & R Park Ranger is a joke. That is why residents call CPD so something might actually be done.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro May 31, 2009 | 5:40 p.m.

("...people these days just need to learn to have some respect for private,public and city property or if caught face the consequences.")
Considering the type of people doing this kind of vandalism, I cant't see the first part of your sentence ever happening. Good luck with the second part...

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr May 31, 2009 | 8:24 p.m.

This is true ray this is true.

(Report Comment)

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