What began as a simple act of civic involvement has turned into a colorful controversy for one Wisconsin town. Parents of children at Cedarburg's Parkview Elementary School got together last month and installed some playground equipment. Since the swing sets, jungle gym, slides, and monkey bars have been there, the kids have apparently loved playing on them. But a group of neighbors have decided that the equipment is a hazard. No, not a hazard to the kids playing on it; it's a hazard to their aesthetic sensibilities. They claim the colors are just too garish.
"I love children. I love the schoolyard," said Phyllis Widstrand, who has lived across from Parkview for 33 years and enjoys watching children play there. "(But) the colors are atrocious. They're McDonald's colors. They're bright yellow, bright red, bright blue."
Widstrand and her husband have gotten over 20 other neighbors to sign a petition complaining about the playground colors. They have also asked the school district to do something, anything, to spare them the pain of looking at them. The head of the parent group responsible for erecting the equipment says that it was paid for through donations collected from concerned parents, and that the colors were deemed to be pleasing to the most important audience — the kids that play on them. The school district is resisting spending a brown penny to mollify the neighbors who contend that they were never consulted about the project, and nice, muted earth tones are more in keeping with the ambience of the neighborhood than primary colors.
The neighbors have asked that screens or mesh or even trees be planted to block their view from the playground. The parents' group is resisting this because any of the proposals costs money, the neighbors don't want to spend any money, and they're not crazy about blocking the view on a playground where their young children would play. Even the local police department has weighed in on obstructing the view into the playground and, with the possibility of sickos in mind, it earned a thumb's down.