Sunday, January 11, 2009

Safety Should Drive Decision on Bryant Park Playground

Bryant Park Playground is a city-owned park located a couple of blocks east of Plainfield’s City Hall. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Bryant Park Playground for the purpose of reviewing the planned location for a bathroom facility and field house. I was later invited to, and consequently attended, a meeting of the East Sixth Street Block Association to hear the concerns of the residents in the area about the proposed improvement to the park.

Based on the information provided to me, I have some concerns, which I hope the council and administration can work together to address before moving forward with the planned improvement in its present form. I am of the view that the council needs to take another look at the plan and have some further discussions with the administration before moving forward. I feel this should be done as a matter of urgency for the following reasons:

  • Safety should be the paramount concern and it should drive the decision more than any other consideration.
  • Aesthetics should also be a consideration—meaning both the aesthetics of the park and those of the surrounding neighborhood.

  • We should be very careful not to let the desire to save an $85,000 grant cause us to make a bad decision.

  • We should not site the facility in a way that would cause neighborhood safety to be in any way compromised.

  • Placing the structure along the southern border of the park (as currently designed) could obstruct the view of police officers patrolling the neighborhood.

  • Placing the structure on the southern side might encourage individuals to gather on its northern side, facing the park, out of the view of watchful neighbors and law enforcement; safety would be compromised.

  • Safety will not be compromised by placing the structure along the fence on the eastern side; this would seem to make the most sense.

  • The preservation or the enhancement of safety in the neighborhood is more important than saving the grant. Furthermore, another appeal should be made to the state of New Jersey to extend the grant one more time.

The East Sixth Street Block Association voted overwhelmingly at its January 8, 2009 meeting to support the construction of the bathroom facility and field house as one unit and to have it constructed on the eastern perimeter of the park.

I hope that both the council and the administration can work together in collaboration with the neighborhood block association, and with the urgency that is required, to make the right decision in the interest of public safety and in the best interest of the city.