Hours after debut, new slide at Mount Dora's Gilbert Park is closed

City says citizen concerns prompted closure

Gray slide at Gilbert Park. Image courtesy of the City of Mount Dora.
Gray slide at Gilbert Park. Image courtesy of the City of Mount Dora.

MOUNT DORA, Fla. – The city of Mount Dora is closing a new slide at the recently revamped Gilbert Park Playground after community members expressed concerns.

The gray tunnel slide, which is part of the pirate-themed playground's Intrepid Ship, will be inaccessible to the public while the manufacturer reevaluates it at the request of the city, Mount Dora officials announced Saturday night.

The Gilbert Park gray slide installed by KOMPAN meets all safety guidelines per American National Standards Institute," Lisa McDonald, the public information officer for the City of Mount Dora, said. "However, due to community feedback, we have requested KOMPAN assess the layout of this slide, as well as other options, moving forward. We will follow up with more details as we have them." 

The structure is meant for children ages 5 through 12. 

On Facebook, commenters said the slide was too steep.

"My son, 9, was just badly injured. I’ve watched so many children all day get hurt on this slide. It has a steep drop in the middle and that’s what’s causing all the injuries," one woman wrote.

Another commenter compared the pirate ship play area to a "death trap."

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Saturday morning to unveil renovations at the park, which include the new Intrepid Ship, The Jungle Dome climbing area, hammock swings, somersault bars and interactive play panels.

Ribbon Cutting at New Gilbert Park Playground!

Thank you to all who came to be a part of welcoming our new Gilbert Park Playground this morning. We look forward to the memories and adventures to come as we sail into the future!

Posted by City of Mount Dora Recreation on Saturday, January 26, 2019

The nearly 30-year-old playground had been closed since September, when renovations began to remove the wooden play-set and replace it with a more up-to-date design.

"With this new investment, the City of Mount Dora demonstrates its commitment to a playground that compliments the natural beauty around Gilbert Park, while providing transparent sight lines for caregivers to keep an eye on their children," city officials said in a news release. "The new playground will be constructed with strong, durable robinia wood to mirror the surroundings and ensure a safe playing space. This inclusive, creative, cognitive and physical playground’s values remain natural beauty, safety and exploration."

Mesh fencing, along with a wood board, currently block children from using the slide. 

Some parents said Tuesday they hoped to see the slide remain, since it's still safer than much of what was around when they were children.

"If you hurt yourself, you hurt yourself," grandmother Julie Haslehurst said. "You get up and carry on. All kids learn that way. It's how we learn, how we evolve as human beings. You can't just wrap children up in cotton wool. It doesn't work like that." 

It's unclear when the slide will reopen to the public.

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