, Newburyport, MA

June 13, 2013

Now you see, now you don't

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

My son burst in the door on Friday exclaiming, “Mom, something awful has happened ... they’ve torn down the Brown School playground!”

“What?” I say, and we head up there to take a look. The gates were locked and all the playground equipment was gone. Word is that the city will pave over the remaining area of mulch where the playground once stood.

I would like to know how and why a community asset could be torn down without any discussion with residents? Supposedly, city councilors were alerted on Wednesday. On Thursday, a bulldozer, workers, and chain saws arrived and spent two days ripping apart the area where children of all ages and parents had gathered to interact and play for years. As parents, we encourage our kids to get outside and play; now where are they going to go? Most of us in the South End have small backyards and the Brown School Playground is where we enjoy our limited open space. It is a vital resource and is what makes us happy to live in Newburyport.

Sure, some of the wood equipment was rotting and in need of replacement, but not all of it. The swings were fine. A great classic metal slide and monkey bars were operational. Parts of the playground could have been removed, but much could have stayed with some fixing, at least until the school closes next year. Was all the equipment deemed beyond repair? There would have been no shortage of community volunteers to contribute money and time to fix the playground. In fact, it was offered in the past. How much money did it cost the city for two days of labor and equipment to rip out and dispose of the play structures?

It saddens me greatly to see the playground and childhood’s purest joy stripped from our neighborhood.

Over the next year there will be hopefully be discussion about what to do with the building and grounds when the school closes for good in June 2014. Whatever the fate, we need to make sure we retain this open space for the community to interact and just have fun.

Give us back our playground!

Amy King