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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | WEST COUNTY / OXNARD

Playground Gear Installation OKd

April 24, 1998|CHRIS CHI

Plans to put new playground equipment at Norma Harrington Elementary School are set to go forward, with school trustees saying the installation would still leave plenty of room for soccer.

The issue of where to put the equipment has grown heated in recent weeks. Parents and teachers raised $25,000 to buy the slides and ladders. The equipment needs to go in a central location, so teachers can keep an eye on youngsters swinging and climbing, they contend.

But opponents, led by second-grade teacher Juan Mora, said the equipment would straddle the school's soccer fields, making games cramped and possibly dangerous. They asked that the equipment be moved 20 yards north, a step they said would free space for soccer games. Mora, meanwhile, accused school officials of being insensitive to Latinos, for whom soccer is a popular pastime.

After hearing about 20 residents speak on the issue Wednesday, school trustees decided there is more than enough room for both playground equipment and soccer. They called school Principal Ron D'Incau's current design well-planned, urging community members to stick to the site and figure out how to maximize the remaining space for soccer matches.

Trustee Francisco Dominguez said priority should be placed on recreation for students at the elementary school--not on accommodating youths and adults who use the field after school. Although both groups are important, "the school was never intended for an organized program for soccer, baseball or related usage," he said.

D'Incau on Wednesday presented several options for maximizing soccer space. The equipment is scheduled for installation in June.

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