Fencing surrounds us. We have our
pool fences, our backyard fences,
our Mexico border fences. Fences and
gates around our neighborhoods.
Whatever the real or imagined
purpose, we seem to have fenced our
These barriers give us a certain
sense of security, assuming that we
feel better when we are fenced in.
Waggoner is a city of Tempe park
adjacent to Waggoner Elementary
A move is under way to fence the
park to help protect the kids at the
My question is this:
When a fence goes up, does it
protect the kids or does it alienate
a neighborhood? Waggoner Park is
full of activity from dawn ‘til
dusk. School kids playing all day
long give way to soccer practice in
the evenings and birthday parties
and pick-up basketball games on
In the past 40 years, Waggoner has
not had a playground incident
related to the lack of a fence
around the playground.
Knowing what I know of children,
many see fences as something to be
climbed: Once inside a fence, the
other side beckons the explorer
How quickly can a seven-year-old
climb a fence to get a wayward
soccer ball? My guess is we will see
the day the barrier is complete.
Climbing accidents seem likely to
follow fence installation.
Likewise, the open and inviting
sense of neighborhood may be changed
by enclosing the area. People will
be less likely to stop at a
neighborhood park if there are only
limited access points. A park that
has been openly enjoyed by so many
for such a long time likely will
become an underutilized decoration
once the walls go up.
Ballots have been sent home to
Waggoner families to decide whether
to fence-in the park. Proponents say
it will keep the kids safer;
opponents see fencing as an
unnecessary expense that will
destroy the feeling of neighborhood
the park now provides.
The fact is, the city of Tempe
prefers an open park, so the $20,000
cost of erecting a fence will fall
on the school district.
That’s a lot fund-raising for a
result that will fence in our fears
and fence out our neighbors. What do