How two boys' dreams of an Oakdale fort were crushed by a lame neighbor

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God forbid kids in Oakdale should want to play outside, let alone try and build a play fort in the woods.

Lori Denney grew up not far from her current Oakdale address. Her voice turns golden revisiting memories of bucolic childhood freedoms.

"We had woods and open spaces and, yeah...," sighs the mother of three as her voice trails off.  

Earlier this autumn, Denney's 10-year-old son and a friend wanted to build a fort outside. Since the family's house on Gresham Way lacked the natural canopy required of the project, the boys eyed a vacant plot about ten blocks away. The kids also had an old wooden desk they wanted to place inside their fort. Would mom help carry the desk?

"At first I didn't like the idea, but then I thought, it's harmless," Denney says. "They're trying to play outside and wanting to build this thing. The place is this condensed area full of trees. It's really cool. I guess I knew we shouldn't be doing it because it was private property, but they were just so excited." 

Denney and the youngsters offloaded the desk from the trunk of her Impala. But back home a short time later, there was a knock at the door.  

 

Were you in the Impala that had a desk by the woods? asked an Oakdale police officer.

"He said they'd received a complaint," says Denney. "The area was city property and we had to remove the desk." 

Denney and one of her 21-year-old twin boys went back to retrieve the offending furniture. The officer watched until the desk was gone.    

It's been weeks since the incident, yet Denney remains a little heartbroken. 

"I wish the person who called the police would have asked me or something first," she says. "I just think somebody didn't like what they were seeing. It makes me sad. I wish I had land somewhere because we don't have any place to play like when I was little."

Repeated messages left for the Garden Court neighbor who filed the complaint were not returned.  


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