Although Lewiston deserves applause for its rapid response to the deplorable playground in Kennedy Park, it does beg a question: What took so long before?

For years, downtown advocates called for restoration of playground equipment in Maple Street Park, which was removed for the controversial Heritage Initiative, and never returned.

Only last year did the Lewiston City Council, amidst a protracted political battle, create the Knox Street Park, to replace Maple Street. This process dragged for months, while the announcement of new playgrounds for Kennedy Park and Knox Street took mere days (or so it seemed).

Perhaps if the city reacted this swiftly years ago, some of downtown’s ruffled feelings about Maple Street would have been alleviated. But this hindsight should not minimize the city’s actions – it did the right thing for these parks.

This is especially true for Kennedy Park, where need was greatest. As one of downtown’s most utilized amenities, a safe playground is an absolute necessity, while an unsafe playground is a dangerous liability.

Yet, as we’ve said, there is still much more in Kennedy Park to do. And the city, except for the playground, has seemingly cooled its financial support for future park projects.

This leaves a void that a strong grassroots effort could – and should – fill. Turning attention to Kennedy Park is a natural for groups and citizens interested in downtown. City officials, too, are refreshingly inviting such a partnership.

After drifting apart over a park, this is a good chance for the city and downtown to come together for another.

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