, Newburyport, MA

July 3, 2013

Mayor made right call on playground

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

I attended the meeting in the auditorium of City Hall about the Brown School playground on Tuesday night. Mayor Holaday and the city’s planning director, Andy Port, listened and responded to the community’s concerns. The message came through loud and clear that the playground should be restored as soon as possible and that a portion of the property should remain open and available as a playground, regardless of what happens with the building when the students are transferred to the new Bresnahan in 2014. The schoolyard is the only available space in the neighborhood for playing ball and teaching kids to ride their bicycles. When I lived on Garden Street, I would walk there with my dog to play ball every day. There was no other place to go.

Steve Bergholm, schools’ facility manager, also explained the events that led up to the mayor’s decision to demolish the playground. Responding to a report of recently collapsed playground equipment, DPS initially began to remove only the obviously damaged structure. But it became apparent that several other support posts were rotten, including those holding up the wooden swing set. Steve had been making repairs as needed for the last few years, but the safety of the equipment was now completely compromised.

Despite the complaints by some in attendance that there was no pubic input in the decision to close the playground, I think the mayor made the right call. Subsequently, she requested an immediate transfer of $20,000 for playground equipment, approved unanimously at City Council on Monday night. Lise Reid, parks administrator, is going to meet with Lisa Bleiken and Friends of the Brown School Park to order the new equipment as soon as possible so that it will be ready for the school kids in September.

Although the mayor had a slide show presentation of possibilities for the school building after its closure, she made it clear that no decisions had been made nor would they be made without public input. The Atwood Park neighborhood went through a similar process recently to plan their playground and the same should be expected for planning the future of the Brown School. I will look forward to these hearings.

Kim Kudym