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Mulch Ado About Nothing? Mountains out of Mole Hills?

Critical Heights (in Feet) of Tested Material Click to view larger image


Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” has its light and trivial moments to be sure, but it also deals with slander, revenge and the character assassination of dear, sweat and beautiful Hero.

The play is a “comedy,” which let’s you know everything works out in the end.

There is another kind of comedy going on with Indianapolis Parks, and we hope it all turns out well.

The new director of Indianapolis Parks reports there’s just not enough mulch at many Indianapolis park playgrounds.

Is this “Mulch Ado About Nothing?”

Not really, because all cities have to deal with liability issues, and injuries on the playground are among them.

While the P&R director called the dearth of mulch embarrassing, it could get embarrassingly costly to the city. Indy Parks recently paid out $16,000 when a little girl fell off a tire swing and cut herself on a bolt exposed by a worn mat beneath the swing.

In an earlier incident, Indy Parks paid $300,000 for a swing injury (broken leg).

Over the summer, at least 30 city park playgrounds did not have enough mulch to make them safe, reports the Indy Star. Lack of mulch also produced puddling of water on some playgrounds.

So why not just put down more mulch? It all started when the city turned its mulch production over to a private contractor to save money. The city had grinding equipment that could make mulch, but the equipment was inadequate to produce the necessary volume, plus it made a low-quality mulch unsuitable for playgrounds.

So, the contractor starting making the mulch, and soon produced a 30-foot hill of the stuff. All well and good, so is this a case of making mountains out of molehills?

Turns out the contractor didn’t know there a difference between landscape mulch and playground mulch (a higher-grade). And that mountain of mulch is going to sit there until it undergoes testing to determine whether the wood chips are free of potentially dangerous debris.

Meanwhile the city has put itself in a precarious position and open to all sorts of liability.

A side issue isn’t going to help matters. Indy Mayor Greg Ballard proposes $3 million in cuts from Indy Parks in 2009.

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December 8, 2019, 7:50 am PDT

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