Monday, June 30, 2014

Cheesman Park Play area - $3.5 million expansion?

from Constance Mortell via Dave Felice

Dear Councilwoman Robb:
Cheesman Park Play area - $3.5 million expansion? or is it $1.2 million? - is this mega proposal necessary? part of the Cheesman Park Master Plan? Where is the demand? Who is behind this?

After speaking with dozens of people using and/or living around the park (only several had even a passing knowledge of your plan) I decided it was best to write to you and inquire from the source.

Since I'm in the park almost daily - race walking the perimeter at various times - I have never/ever seen a line waiting for any of the swings, or the slides or seen people unable to access the general play area because of a crowd. Quite the contrary, the children's play area seems to be the quiet and embracing part of the park for families with young children, on a scale that befits a small neighborhood park like Cheesman.

So one wonders, why would a large, very expensive expanded playground even be proposed in the first place? What is the necessity? Where is the demand? Who is precipitating this? Why disrupt something that is already working well?

Certainly, if there is a need for additional swing sets, or a larger slide or extended monkey-bars, I could understand, but how could that possibly cost in the millions? I would guess maybe $20,000? or $30,000 at most? And please don't tell me you are already paying that kind of money to study the whole scenario? This is exactly the kind of behavior that gives government a bad name - spending money on studies and then large infrastructure projects that they justify.

If there is currently so little money in the Parks Dept. budget for replacing the additional trees we continue to lose, or for additional plantings of bushes and flowers around the perimeter, or the adding of gravel to the whole (original) running trail which was not done, or possibly hiring additional staff - then why in the world are we off budgeting for an expansion of something that is currently serving a need (and doing a fine job of it) rather than taking care of what needs more care?

Truly, if you can come up with $ 3.5 million or $ 1.2 million, please, spend it on the park itself or hire more park staff, or put it toward paying for a Festival Park some where on city owned property, so we can take the pressure off all the neighborhood parks that continue to take on more and more users and the associated problems of noise/garbage/parking, etc., etc. with the constant expansion of big events and festivals in our neighborhood parks.

Expanding the children's play area, beyond the respite spot it is now, with something even approaching $1.2 million in infrastructure, is not only inviting more traffic, car parking problems, noise and garbage, but what about additional urinals and the on-going need to service them?

I do not understand this urge to always build infrastructure rather than support the natural flora for which parks were originally created - horticultural essentials are what parks are supposed to provide - a retreat from infrastructure, a tranquil place to go and lie in the grass and look up at trees and hear breezes, not the noise associated with ever larger infrastructures and there commercialized events.

Please explain the thinking behind this kind of proposal, who came up with this in the first place and who is funding it? If you remotely have these resources to fund this kind of project, then please put the money toward maintaining and supporting the current needs of this small and very well used urban oasis, hire more individuals to care for it, create native and tall grass areas around the perimeter, do something to honor the present park rather than squandering limited resources on some grand infrastructure scheme that is meant to benefit those that build it and the event planners that then want to use and commercialize it for their narrow profit gains.

Very truly yours,

Constance Mortell


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