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Waggoner fence issue closed . . . for now


May 17, 2008   

Security fencing on the east side of Waggoner Park appears to be a dead issue, at least until proponents come up with a plan that can gain wider parent and neighborhood support.

A group of Waggoner Elementary School parents had asked Principal Ken Helling to request the installation of a fence along the Lakeshore Drive perimeter of the park, which the city of Tempe allows the school to use as an adjunct playground.

Some parents have expressed concern over public accessibility to the area, which they say increases the possibility of abduction or children running into the street; they say fencing would help alleviate those concerns.

Some neighborhood residents who were not included in the survey have said, however, that they oppose any efforts that might cut off the public’s use of the park, which is paid for by taxpayer funds, and have suggested that the parent group’s concerns may be exaggerated.

After tabulating returns of a questionnaire distributed to Waggoner parents, Helling decided that the 57 percent “yes” votes among 212 respondents was not enough to justify pursuing the matter further.

He had said he wanted a 65 percent favorable response from parents before asking the city and other neighborhood residents for their thoughts on the proposal.

The Kyrene district’s director of community education and outreach services, Kelly Alexander, confirmed that no funds have been earmarked for Waggoner fencing in this year’s capital improvement budget, but that the district would consider it should the idea win wider approval.

“We would cooperate, but we don’t have any specific plan right now,” she said.

Alexander also noted that fences at other Kyrene schools are referred to as “safety fencing,” not as the heavier security fencing she said is desired by the group of Waggoner parents.

“Some have indicated they want it to be impenetrable, which it wouldn’t be,” she said.

“Our fencing is not the Ft. Knox kind.”

In the meantime, Helling continues to work with a school fence committee, which tentatively has scheduled a meeting with Tempe Parks & Recreation Manager Mark Richwine to explore possible alternatives.


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