PLATTSBURGH — In the days after rundown playground equipment was razed from a city neighborhood park, Plattsburgh City Mayor Christopher Rosenquest said many called and emailed to ask, "What the heck is going on?"
The equipment in question once sat at a sliver of a park on Hamilton Street, steps away from Peru Street. The site now sits vacant save a tarmac slab and single basketball hoop.
The community response prompted Rosenquest to post a short YouTube video, less than two minutes in length, of him walking the park property and explaining the decision.
"We took out all of the park equipment here, because it's dangerous," he said. "I don't want my kid playing on it, you don't want your kids playing on it and we had to take it out."
The playground is not unlike several others citywide.
Officials released a report last week, detailing the state of more than 20 city-owned parks.
The condition of each was scored using the following terms: hazardous, needs work, decent, good or excellent.
The report features a description of each park, including amenities and issues, and possible future uses.
Hamilton Park was one of three to receive the "hazardous" designation, joined by South Platt Park, or "Fox Hill," and Sailor's Point Park off of the Terry Gordon Bike Path.
"Playground equipment is structurally unsound and dangerous to use," the report says of Hamilton Park. "Benches and seating pose safety hazards. Steps on the slide are loose and unsafe for use."
It says the playground equipment needs to be dismantled, as it has been, and says the perimeter fencing and basketball area need repairs. It recommends a dog park or continued greenspace use for the future, if not the installation of new park equipment.
Fox Hill, a much larger park with room for sledding and skating in the winter, as well as baseball and other recreation in the warmer months, was labeled "hazardous" for its needed play structure repairs, missing swings and lack of lights for nighttime use.
Sailor's Point Park, which requires individuals cross a wooden footbridge over the train tracks to get there, scored poorly because that bridge is out of service and has been for half a year. The park itself required other repairs, as well, including new grills to replace rusted, broken ones.
'PARKS NEED HELP'
Several other parks fell into the "needs work" and "decent" categories, while about half, including Tremblay Park on Rugar Street and Wilcox Dock on Cumberland Avenue, were said to be in "excellent" condition.
Though scoring well, the report still lists a range of updates and maintenance needed at the various locations.
In his video, Rosenquest discusses the city's lack of a Recreation Department, saying it would be responsible for park management and maintenance.
"The Rec Department has been, essentially, just defunded," he said. "We haven't had a Rec Department for years. . . We haven't had a group of people doing that."
The mayor continued, saying, "Our parks need help. We need to invest in our parks. Putting money into our parks is not an expense, it's an investment. It's an investment into the community, into our quality of life."
A letter signed by the mayor accompanies the recent report, claiming it will guide decisions for "reinventing a recreation program that is right-sized for our community."
He notes such a plan should leverage existing parks, greenspace and natural resources and be developed in partnership with private and municipal organizations to offer recreation experiences, like leagues and other sporting opportunities.
"The intention is that this report will provide us guidance to prioritize improvements that will revitalize a new recreation program that will serve everyone," the mayor's letter states.
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