It’s been more than a year since Lewiston City Councilor Denis Theriault promised the city would rebuild the playground at Kennedy Park.
So much for promises.
On April 21, 2008, the city shut down the playground at Kennedy Park after a complaint was made about a loose board on one of the play decks.
At the time, Theriault said the council had known for at least a year that the playground wasn’t up to safety standards, and a replacement was already in the works. The fact that a child could have gotten hurt on the unsafe equipment made replacement more urgent, he said.
The playground has not yet been replaced, some 385 days later, despite the fact that the play equipment was purchased and delivered to the city last August.
The week before the playground was deemed unsafe and dismantled, the City Council had voted to put a hold on a $267,000 renovation of the park, including a new pool house and a $50,000 playground. So, when making his promise, Theriault was aware of the funding freeze. He was also aware of the city’s alternate plan to construct a $26,000 playground, which included relocating the playground farther away from the basketball courts. That alternate plan was approved by the Council in May, and the playground equipment was ordered.
In August, the equipment arrived.
The play equipment includes a sky rail climber, a spring platform, a 40-inch-tall slide, three bays of swings and climbing blocks. But rainy weather delayed its installation. At the time, Public Works Director Paul Boudreau said the rain had delayed lots of city projects, but he hoped to have the play area prepped and equipment installed by the end of September.
And, still, no playground exists.
When the complaint about the dangerous play equipment was made in April 2008, Councilor Theriault went to Kennedy Park, examined the equipment, talked to parents who wondered when it would be replaced, and instructed police to keep children off the works until it could be taken down so no one would get hurt.
He supported funding of the alternate playground, part of his lingering promise to make sure the playground was replaced, and yet there’s been absolutely no movement since last September.
We’re not suggesting Councilor Theriault should grab a shovel and install the equipment himself, but we are suggesting that he should make good on the promise he personally made to residents and see this project through. Anything less is an empty promise, which Lewiston’s families do not deserve.
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