A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

New playground comes with a ‘warning’

Written January 14th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

The “welcome” sign at Albany’s new Henderson Park comes with a warning in small print.

The new playground at Albany’s Henderson Park is more elaborate than the one it replaced. It also comes with a warning that falling from the equipment on hard ground could result in death.

I’ve written before about the $175,000 project to update the layout and the play equipment at the park in the 800 block of Calapooia Street. Since the last update in November, the new playground has been installed and the park reopened for public use.

I had not seen the finished product until I went by there Friday on the bike. (Actually, not really “finished,” as explained below.)

The “welcome” sign is similar to the age recommendations on children’s toys. The intended age range at Henderson is 5-12.

A smaller sign lists the risks of playing there.

Installation over a hard surface such as concrete, asphalt, or packed earth may result in serious injury or death from falls,” it says.

The ground is covered with wood shavings, but presumably the sign came with the equipment from the manufacturer and was meant to cover all contingencies.

Other supposed risks named on the sign are strangulation from drawstrings if they’re not removed first, helmet straps, or scarves around the neck, or getting burned by surfaces heated by the sun, or slipping when it’s wet.

Other than that, kids, go have fun.

What I didn’t see when I looked around Friday was a sign acknowledging Maude Henderson or Amanda Johnson.

Miss Henderson, who died in 1935, willed her house to the city with instructions to build a park there.

Mrs. Johnson lived in Maude’s house and under Maude’s care until her death in 1927. She had come to Oregon with Maude’s grandmother in the 1850s.

Amanda was the widow of Ben Johnson. Both were Oregon pioneers who were born into slavery. As children, they reached Oregon in the 1850s on a wagon train with the families that freed them.

At least two other parks, Bryant and Hackleman, have plaques recognizing the pioneer families that gave the land on which the parks sit.

At Henderson Park, a plaque reminding coming generations of the history of the place would be a welcome touch. (hh)

The new play equipment at Henderson Park, with wood chips on the ground below.


The old nameplate. massively clunky though it looks, has been reinstalled.

Parks and Recreation Director Kim Lyddane read this story Tuesday morning (Jan. 17) and sent  me this additional information:

When the playground was installed, we decided to open the park back up for play even though we have not completed all of the fit and finish. We didn’t want to keep kiddos off any longer than necessary. The team is still working on quite a few additional items before we consider the park complete.  Items include:

  • All fixtures (picnic tables, benches, dog poop bag holders, etc.)
  • Signage (interpretive about the history and to honor individuals who donations for improvements were made in their name)
  • A split rail fence along the canal
  • New street trees
  • We are hoping to get the tennis court refinished (went out for bid last summer but didn’t get any bids)
  • And we are going to be doing lots of seeding to help the grass grow.

We still have quite the list, but we are so thankful to be moving in the right direction.  We hope to have it all completed late spring/early summer for a ribbon cutting and celebration.


11 responses to “New playground comes with a ‘warning’”

  1. John S. says:

    I noticed the sign likewise says that the playstructure “requires users to have sufficient strength and coordination.” Curiously, it doesn’t specify how these necessary levels of strength and coordination are to be determined, or how this requirement is to be enforced, rendering the statement meaningless. Such nonsensical verbiage adds more confusion to the situation rather than clarify it, so how is anyone to take these words seriously? Legal mumbo-jumbo is making a mockery of our lives. When things are stated in such a silly manner as this sign is, people simply ignore them. So ultimately the sign becomes counterproductive in accomplishing its main intent.

  2. Mary Sabatka Gamet says:

    The city is planning a ribbon cutting type ceremony in the spring to re-dedicate the park. I expect the plaques to be installed by that time.

  3. Cheryl P says:

    It’s such a shame that our society has become so litigious that folks have to put such ‘warning’ signs out. A lot of times when a child gets injured on a play ground it is because they aren’t be properly supervised by their parent.

  4. Peggy says:

    Where these parks come from and their meaning is important. It also makes the kids think about a little respect as to how it got there.

    • MarK says:

      Kids??? Very few adults these days have any respect as to how it got there and the younger generation will only deface them. Mostly just our elders even bother reading these plaques. It’s a sign of the dreadful times we’re in.

      • Hartman says:

        By societal and legal standards, only those above age 18 have the intellectual ability to read and understand these signs. It may be that many over age 18 do not comprehend the signs particularly either, but that does NOT prevent unpleasant consequences coming their way should their actions result in harm for themselves or any minors under their control. The signs are for the adults. The signs provide a modicum of legal cover for the City when parents fail to do the job of parenting and youngsters get injured. If parents would focus on their playing toddlers and less on the iPhone screens, perhaps these types of signs would not be so necessary.

  5. Joyeux Fleur says:

    Thank you Hasso for revealing the history of Henderson Park. Miss Henderson and Mrs Johnson need to be recognized with a plaque. We need to be grateful to and honor the people who were part of the history of the Albany and Henderson Park. To often our younger generations are not taught the history of people and places and that is sad. I, for one, am grateful both ladies will be given recognition with a plaque in the park to remind us that these women cared about future generations with the gift of land for a beautiful park.

    • Bob Zybach says:

      Thanks, Hasso, for bringing the history of this park to its users! I think this would be a great tribute to the memory of Amanda Johnson, as well as Maude Henderson!

  6. CHEZZ says:

    Gee, we all would just run into a playground and get busy with all the thrills, chills, and spills the playground had to offer. The playground of today — be weary of it. Is this nuts or what?!


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