Heights man fired after building wooden train for playground

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by Shern-Min Chow / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on January 30, 2014 at 7:39 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 31 at 12:33 PM

HOUSTON -- A Houston Heights senior citizen has been fired for building and donating a big wooden train to his neighborhood park. The Houston Heights Association which owns the park let him go.

Retired Houston Firefighter Paul Carr had worked part time managing the park.

On a recent visit to Donovan Park, the train was the center of attention. Kids climbed all over it. It took Carr four months of work in his garage to build the play structure. It went up just before Christmas and when word got out he’d been let go, many were unhappy.

“It doesn’t make much sense to me,” said Tanja Vaughn.

The Houston Heights Association acknowledge the whole affair had become a public relations nightmare. They posted a statement on their website, noting Carr didn’t ask for permission.

“It would be just like if I built something and put it in your front yard without your permission,” said VP of Communications Julie Pettit. The association is also worried about safety.

“How? What’s dangerous about a train,” said 8-year-old Nobel Rhyne.

“We’re looking into safety issues over materials that were used,” said Pettit.

“There have been some issues with splinters. We’d like to have kiddy gravel around it.”

Both sides admit, the real problem has been a difference of opinion on how to manage the park . The association says Carr “often disregarded the board’s wishes.”

Carr thinks much of the fight is generational: old versus new. He himself has been a 40 year member of the neighborhood association and a four-time past president of the organization that fired him.

“I put $5,000 into this train and would’ve expected it would’ve been a little more appreciated by them,” said Carr.

No question the kids and their parents appreciate it.

We brought you this story through our partnership with The Leader News.

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