Friday, September 21, 2012

Quiltingmama, Lawn Ranger and Protector of Innocent Padlocks

Yesterday was beautiful.  It was sunny, the temperature was mostly in the 70s, and there was a light breeze.  "What a perfect day for cutting grass at the new church property," I thought as I was driving on I-470.  It's fun to be a Lawn Ranger when you are almost certainly going to be able to get the lawn mower started.  The new Grasshopper at the new church property had so far proved much more reliable than the mower at the old property, so I was feeling a lot more optimistic than I did last year. 

Also, readers should know that Lawn Rangers have a great deal of autonomy over when they cut the grass.  I try to mow the lawn on a weekday because most of the Lawn Rangers are only available on Saturdays.  Cutting the grass at the new property is a two-day job because there is so much grass.  Therefore, I avoid trying to use the Grasshopper on the only day someone else can cut grass.

As I was driving, I sternly reminded myself not to blog about cutting grass because no one would want to read about it, even if this was the first time I was going to cut grass at church since June.  (The drought basically killed lawns for awhile.)  However, yesterday involved some unusual circumstances, so astute readers have probably already noticed that I couldn't even keep my promise to myself for twenty-four hours.


The four photos above show part of the front of our new church property.  If you think it looks more like an elementary school than a church, you would be right.  Our church needs more space, and the Shawnee Mission School District is selling the older schools it no longer needs.  Since just buying the property involves a lot of money, there wasn't much left to spend on renovations.  And, about half of that money is being spent to bring the property up to 21st century fire codes.
So, imagine my surprise when I reached the new church property and saw the sight shown below.
The Lenexa Police Department obviously had its own plans for the property yesterday, so I started to worry about whether I was going to be allowed to mow the grass.  Our church is trying to establish a good relationship with our new neighbors, so I figured the police training must be part of that.
So, I skirted past all the police cars on the north side of the building to park near the shed where the Grasshopper lives.  There were a couple of heavy construction vehicles just parking by the shed.  When I got out of my car, I saw two men approaching the locked gate separating the north side of the building from the parking in the back.  And, one of the men was carrying bolt cutters.
I walked over to the men and asked if I could help them.  The one in charge said they were at the new property to work on the fire lane we need in the back, but they couldn't unlock the gate.  Then the man told me they were going to cut the padlock in order to open the gate.
Silently thanking Penny B. for all of her organizational work in making sure the Lawn Rangers had what they needed at the new property, including keys, I offered to unlock the gate.  The man was happy I could do that.  I was amazed I arrived ten seconds before the bolt cutters destroyed the padlock rather than ten seconds afterwards.  Timely arrivals are not usually my style, and the church budget is tight; we can't just replace padlocks indiscriminately.
The photo above shows the gate after it was opened and the padlock saved.  If you look carefully in the background of the photo, you can see some of the police cars involved with the training. 
While I was later eating lunch in my car, I watched the police practicing outside.  It looked a lot like "Law and Order," or perhaps I should say that "Law and Order" looked a lot like what the Lenexa police officers were practicing.  Some of the time officers were running in the parking lot with their guns drawn, so I was perfectly happy to keep out of the way of the police.
Just in case my grandson ever looks at this blog, I also photographed some of the construction equipment once they were on the other side of the gate.

Next, I figured I'd better talk to the police officers and discover whether it was worth my while to even unlock the shed.  The officer in charge told me that the police would be training all day, but most of the time they would be inside the building.  That worried me a bit since I knew sometime during the course of the six or so hours I would be there, I would need to go inside for a restroom break.  The officer agreed that was reasonable, and we arranged what I should do if I had to get to "their" part of the building.  (As it turned out, one of the restrooms which had been unusable earlier in the summer was now available, so I didn't have to interrupt any training exercises.)
The officer did not want me cutting grass near the police cars, but he did say I could mow the lawn elsewhere.  Fortunately, the new property is huge, so there was plenty of shaggy land available.  The officer didn't really want me parking near the shed, but when I told him I was going to refill some of the gas cans and didn't really want to carry 30 - 35 pounds of gasoline the long way around the rest of the building, I was granted permission to park near the shed.  Hurray!
After I spoke with the police officer, I telephoned the church office, which is still at the old property.  I talked to the office manager and told her about danger the padlock had been in.  It was sort of passing the buck, but I didn't know who was in charge of construction site access.
Then I drove to the gas station and filled up the two-gallon cans I can lift to pour into the Grasshopper's gas tank.  (The other Lawn Rangers are men and can lift five-gallon cans, so I bought the smaller cans because I didn't want to appear to be a weakling.)  Eventually I was able to start mowing the lawn (but not near the police training exercises).
And so ends the factual part of this blog.  The next part is entirely my own opinion and may be based on erroneous information I only think I know.
Whoever is serving as general contractor on the renovation project messed up.  The fire-lane workmen should not have been reduced to bolt cutters in order to have access to the back of the church.  The odds that I would show up with a key to the gate at the right time were miniscule.  The gate is usually padlocked, too, so it shouldn't have been a big surprise.
Also, while I was cutting the grass in back after lunch, I saw the fire-lane workers walking along the drainage ditch to 95th Street and looking at a couple of storm sewer covers.  It really seemed as though they were looking for something they needed to know in order to proceed.  After the men walked around for awhile, they all got into their trucks and left the property for some two hours.
Was this another instance of information not being passed along in a timely fashion?  Shouldn't the general contractor have made sure the men who were going to build the fire lane knew where the drainage lines were (or whatever the missing information was)?
It seems as though a great deal of time is being wasted unnecessarily.  That bothers me.


  1. Well, durn! I think you are the most considerate person I've run across lately. I so appreciate your taking the time and trouble to write this piece, and I hope you will post it in full on SMUUCH just in case other members might overlook the link. I still don't understand, though. Were the police on the church property? If so, had they gotten permission from the congregation? Love, Liz

  2. The police were on the property (i.e., the parking lot and most of the north wing). Deb M. knew that the police were there, so I'm assuming (dangerous, I know) they had permission. IT Prof thinks they were practicing some kind of school intruder scenario; I think his is a good theory.