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Officials plan to take down wooden playground, put new equipment up

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MASSENA - The Creative Playground, also known as the wooden park on Danforth Place, will be saying good-bye.

Mayor James F. Hidy told the Massena Joint Recreation Commission on Tuesday that both the village and town boards agree it should be torn down and replaced with new playground equipment.

“We’d like to take it down and put a new one up,” he said.

The site has been the subject of discussion over the years because of vandalism issues and the condition of the wooden equipment, which has gotten face-lifts in the past, but it still showing its age.

“The consensus from both boards is it has pretty much outlived its dated structure. It’s the maintenance on it, but also the safety factor,” such as pieces of wood that are missing, Mr. Hidy said.

In addition, he said, it provides a “haven” for children who aren’t a suitable age to be at the site.

“It’s intimidating for a lot of parents to see these kids hanging around,” the mayor said.

Instead, he said, it could be replaced with more modern equipment like those found in other parks in Massena. Equipment from Playscapes, for instance, would require much less maintenance, Mr. Hidy said.

“We want to look at something similar to Alcoa Field, Springs Park and the beach,” he said. “I see a ton of people down at Springs. It’s going to be just as nice. It’s going to give a clean, fresher look.”

Recreation Commission Chairman David M. MacLennan said he agreed that there were safety and vandalism issues.

“I can sympathize with the safety factor. It really bugs me as far as vandalism,” he said, noting their hope was that a police presence would deter some of the vandalism issues so they could keep the park a place where parents would want to bring their children.

“I hate to see that go. A lot of organizations put in sweat equity and money,” he said.

“I agree with you. It was a labor of love back in the day. These types of structures have seen their day,” Mr. Hidy said.

The demographics of those who uses the park have also changed, he said.

“Just ask the neighbors around there,” Mr. Hidy said.

Board member George Hammill said one of the concerns is that the current equipment provides “too much cover” that allows the vandalism to take place.

At the same time, Recreation Director Richard A. Boprey said, “It’s used by a lot of school groups,” such as the nearby Toddler Town.

“I want to see something there to replace it,” he said.

The cost was one of Mr. MacLennan’s concerns since replacing the equipment was not a budgeted item in the recreation department’s spending plan.

“I can understand all the issues. The only question is, the funding comes out of your budget?” he wondered.

Mr. Hidy said it would be covered without impacting the recreation department’s budget. He said that Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray will propose using funding from their casino gaming compact money to cover the cost.

“My understanding is it will come out of the compact gaming money. He’s proposing that to his board,” he said. “You guys don’t have (the money).”

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