, Newburyport, MA

August 2, 2013

A city of contrasts

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Two playgrounds, deemed unsafe, disappear in the night. One is located in the South End of Newburyport, and one in the North End of the same city.

Their disappearance is two years apart; the first removed in 2011. One was nested in the relatively affluent Brown School neighborhood; the other was in the public housing, low-income community, Kelleher Park. At times like these, it seems we live in a city of contrasts. Why is one playground to be replaced within two months of removal, and the other project appears stationary more than two years since its removal? I am confused and frustrated for those who live in both neighborhoods. In fact, the Brown School playground is nearly in my backyard. But the lack of progress at Kelleher Park is exasperating. I am especially disheartened for those Newburyport families who wait for years, knowing that money collected by generous private donation sits waiting and available to completely fund new construction, at Kelleher Park. Progress on this project is about as invisible as poverty is in Newburyport. I understand that Kelleher Park is state property, and the other, on Milk Street, is under the control of the city, but we are all part of one community. We can build two playgrounds this summer.

As executive director of the Hugh Doyle Resource Center (HDRC), I serve as a community support person to Kelleher Park residents, to work toward collaborative solutions for some of Newburyport’s most needy residents. At the HDRC we seek to help people, including residents at Kelleher Park, to navigate and access aid and social services. So, I witness the discouragement of those who wait patiently next to a silent lot that sits vacant yet another summer. As one more summer turns to fall, hope falls as well. Poverty is more than the shortage of income. It is the inability to participate in the activities of normal living. Normal living is having enough to eat, and you could even say that normal living is having access to a safe playground. Let us all find a way to build a playground on both sides of our city, before the leaves fall.

Ingrid R. Cyros

Executive director, The Hugh Doyle Resource Center