Discussion begins on redoing, maintaining playgrounds in town

Dec 6, 2017

Selectmen, Municipal Maintenance and the Open Space Committee put their heads together on Tuesday to start formulating a plan for playground and open space remodeling and maintenance.

There are 21 playgrounds in town including school playgrounds, and 13 of those are owned by the town. Municipal Maintenance Director Dave Menard appeared before the Board of Selectmen and explained his department doesn’t have the staff to care for all those playgrounds.

Currently, Municipal Maintenance addresses pressing safety issues and mows the lawns at playgrounds but doesn’t have the manpower to do anything further, Menard said.

Selectman Patrick Tropeano said the three groups need to work together to choose what  playgrounds to focus on and put that information and maintenance plan in the master plan, which is currently being revised with a February deadline.

A master plan addresses a community's goals for land use, housing, climate change, economic development, services and facilities, transportation, open space and recreation and natural and cultural resources. Having a master plan in place means town officials can work from a shared vision for the community and makes the town eligible for certain state grants.

It would be “physically impossible” to redo all the playgrounds in town, Selectman Alan Slavin agreed.

“The town of Wareham cannot make mistakes because we don’t have the money to fix the mistakes,” Slavin said.

Sandy Slavin, Chairman of the Open Space Committee, said her first priority is removing wooden playground items from every playground.

“That’s a top priority from a safety point of view,” she said. “Those wooden structures are way past their date and they’re more dangerous than anything else.”

Sandy Slavin said she would encourage people in each neighborhood to come to an Open Space Committee meeting to talk about the neighborhood’s needs.

“Neighborhoods have to step up and help out,” she said. “The neighborhood determines which is our next project.”

Menard encouraged people to think about having things in a park or playground that appeal to all ages, including a basketball court or walking paths in addition to swings and play areas.