The expiration date on the fantasy floated by both South Euclid officials as well as the Sun Messenger concerning this playground has long since expired.
The idea of a fully accessible playground, financed with 100% donations, without using taxpayer dollars, built exclusively by community volunteers, and maintained through continued fundraising, is indeed a noble concept. Unfortunately that's not how it happened. This isn't an attack on the volunteers who did turn out, nor on the city service workers who were simply doing their jobs. It's about being honest and fair with the taxpayers. And that isn't happening either.
Even after the jig was up and the service department was brought in to finish the job, city officials—both from the Administration and Council indignantly stick to the same storyline, even while being filmed. What is most perplexing is why on earth the Sun Messenger would mollify the truth in order to alleviate the consequences for City Hall? Why after every detail communicated to the public continued to be drastically modified, did the local newspaper not change course and begin to hold City Hall’s feet to the fire?
Considering the dismal performance demonstrated by both the leaders of South Euclid, and those with the "power of the press," one can only hope that this playground debacle doesn’t turn out to be the precursor to the redevelopment of Cedar Center.
SEO has done everything feasible to shed as much light on this issue as possible and would welcome anyone who so chooses, to give us any thoughts they feel are germane.
Which, if any, of the wildly varied numbers reported by City Hall and the Sun Messenger are accurate?
- $80,000 : 6-4-09 * document A
- $59,328.51 : 2-16-09 * document C
- 250 “pickets” sold : 10-2-08 * document D
- $60,000 : 8-7-08 * document E
- $125,000 : 7-14-08 * video 1
- “close to reaching half our goal” : 9-8-08 * video 2
Cost of Playground
- $150,000 : 6-4-09 * document A
- $255,296.34 : 2-16-09 * document C
- $200,000 : 8-7-08 * document E
Number of Volunteers
- 1500 : 6-4-09 * document A
- 1000 : 10-2-08 * document D
- "over 700" : 10-1-08 * video 3
Date: June 4, 2009
- $80,000 in donations received to date
- Total cost of playground = $150,000
- 1500 volunteers participated
- Mayor denies service department involvement during business hours
Date: March 22, 2009
- City officials are unwilling to provide full financial disclosure
- There was never a response to this request for public records
Date: February 16, 2009
- $59,328.51 in donations received to date
- City loaned the playground project $175,235.34
- Total cost to date = $200,296.34 + estimated cost of ground cover at $55,000 for a to date cost of $255,296.34
Ordinance 31-08 sponsored by Mayor Welo in July, 2008, provided for an amount “not to exceed $150,000” to be loaned to the playground project. See additional details previously posted on SEO; Financial Discrepancies - On 2-16-09 the Mayor states that $175,235.34 was loaned to the playground project. Where did the extra $25,235.24 come from? It is currently unknown how and when that authorization took place.
Date: October 2, 2008
- Donations include the sale of 250 pickets
- $55,000-$80,000 cost for rubber ground cover
- 1000 volunteers participated
Date: August 7, 2008
- $60,000 in donations pledged to date -including- $50,000 Verizon commitment not yet received
- Total cost = $200,000
- $14,000 paid by city to the architectural firm, Leathers and Associates, to coordinate the project
- time: 2 min. 41 sec.
- $125,000 in donations pledged to date
- Mayor Welo presents Ordinance 31-08 with an explanation that the $150,000 about to be loaned to the playground project INCLUDES the cost of the ground cover. It was later reported by city officials that there was no money available to purchase the ground cover: see Video 3.
- time: 1 min. 14 sec.
- Donations received to date = "close to reaching half our goal" (2 weeks prior to the build date)
- time: 3 min. 03 sec.
- Cost of ground cover = $70,000; funds not available
- "Probably over 700" volunteers participated
- time: 3 min. 19 sec.
- It is alleged that although city officials have presented the playground to the public as fully funded and constructed exclusively by donations and volunteered time, tools and supplies- all with no public money- indeed that is NOT the case. City officials steadfastly contend that the playground was built by all volunteers and that NO city workers were there on city time. Council President Moe Romeo specifically states that no city workers were paid to work there. Video 5 clearly shows city workers shoveling gravel at the playground for the base.
- time: 3 min. 10 sec.
- City workers on the clock shovel gravel for the base of the rubber ground cover which is being poured by a contracted company.
- A representative from the company contracted to pour the rubber ground cover has an unsolicited conversation with SEO. Workers from his company and city service department workers shoveled gravel for the playground base in preparation for the rubber pour. He can be heard explaining that “this isn’t what we do. This is usually completely done.” His account was that the volunteers needed the previous weekend did not show up. He also states that they required special authorization to utilize city workers to complete the project on April 22nd and 23rd. It is not currently known how many additional days the city service workers were tasked to work at the playground, or, how much additional money was paid to the contractor for “back charges” due to the city’s lack of preparedness.
- time: 2 min. 10 sec.
- Mayor states that the service department worked on playground "one day" doing drainage and flood control
- Financial Discrepancies : August 08, 2008
- Trifecta Of Panic : September 06, 2008
- Playground Update : September 09, 2008
- You WILL Be Donating : January 10, 2009
- Two Different Stories : April 26, 2009
- On The Defensive : April 29, 2009