Thursday, September 28, 2023

Smoke-screen for city's bad location decision

| May 16, 2023 1:00 AM

Travers Park’s playground was chosen by City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton’s office to use as the location for a new James Russell tennis facility. Not City Council’s decision, not city residents’ decision. When they shifted from the original location choice at the existing tennis courts over to the playground site, they claimed the soil tests made it necessary. But this is not true according to a public record request that showed both sites are basically the same and suitable for the large, tall building.

In the city’s own 2020 Park & Recreation Master Plan and every online survey they’ve taken, the community has expressed interest in a multi-use indoor facility for youth sports and after-school activities. Clearly, this is the “community’s vision” in black/white. And the location for any building should rightly be a public decision since the building will be sitting on public land and will be maintained with public tax dollars.

The dedication of the Russell Family’s $7.5 million generous gift to our community should be within the commemorative spirit of both James Russell and John Travers, who once played youth sports here as young boys.

All our community’s coaches struggle with finding practice space, especially in wet, muddy spring. A much better choice, than relocating the playground with its million-dollar price tag, would be to construct a “James Russell Youth Center” in the Great Northern Park directly north of Travers Park and improve the playfields around it. With a 60-car parking lot there, it makes good sense.

The city’s shift to feature all-inclusive play at the playground is simply a smoke-screen to cover their poor location decision for the new building. Let’s save the beautiful open view, shade trees, and open play areas surrounding Travers Park’s existing playground and simply ADD some nice all-inclusive play features.



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