My Turn: Skate park not a community effort

  • The parking lot between Chapman and Davis streets in Greenfield is slated for the new skate park. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Published: 5/10/2022 9:49:39 PM

I was shocked to read Greenfield Recreation Director Christy Moore’s comment in the April 28 article describing the planned skate park as “a true community effort.” What community? Certainly not the community of abutters to the park, such as myself. As stated by Lorraine Pearson in her My Turn column on May 2, no one in the neighborhood was informed of this decision, unlike the residents who live higher up on the hill when the park was proposed in a more affluent area.

A neighbor is renovating a house to create a rental unit. I received a flyer in my mail inviting me to attend a hearing to voice my concerns. There was no flyer asking for the same regarding the skate park. Why?

This skate park will not only impact our quality of life through the period of construction, but every day with multitudes of cracks of boards on concrete until sundown nearly all year long, in addition to the cheering, music, and crowds that will gather. Do Christy Moore or Mayor Wedegartner enjoy a warm spring day with their windows open? How would they feel if there was a skate park 50 feet from their kitchen window?

This is a neighborhood that houses vulnerable populations. We are a diverse group including people of color, elders on fixed incomes, and people on disability. Why do the vulnerable populations of this neighborhood have to endure the impact on their quality of life because of the decisions of others?

I attended the skate park design meeting with Pearson and other abutters. We felt an additional blow when told that “the town” had decided that very day to move the park to the north end of the lot closest to the residential area, instead of the south end, closest to Wilson’s. Who comprises “the town” that is able to make such unilateral decisions that impacts the well-being of others? During the meeting, I spoke of my concerns but efforts were made to silence me. The designer appeared empathetic and proposed a wall on the residential end of the park to mitigate the noise. Imagine my surprise when the final plan was published in the paper. The wall was not there as promised. Instead, the park is literally shaped like an amphitheater, with the higher end on the southern portion of the park, opening up directly towards the residential area. No wall. Just one line of trees to mitigate the noise into my kitchen window.

I am proud to live downtown in this designated low-income neighborhood. Since I bought my house 17 years ago, my financial situation has changed. I could relocate. But this is my home. My son grew up here. My oldest friend in Greenfield is here. Like other neighborhoods, we stop to chat with each other, and help shovel each other’s walkways. I walk into town several times a week to shop for groceries, eat in local restaurants, and support other local businesses. Do I need to sacrifice my peace and quiet to do so? Don’t I have the same access to a quality of life as those living higher up on the hill? What about the people who work third shift here? Don’t they deserve to sleep during the day?

The Davis street site appears a done deal. If it must move forward, please move it back to its initial site on the south end, furthest from this residential neighborhood. Please consider the impact of the noise pollution on our quality of life. There was an idea for a graffiti wall. Could one be constructed on the north side of the site? Or some other kind of sound barrier? Also, if the site is closer to Wilson’s, there is no slope that would contribute to the amphitheater design that opens up toward our homes.

I have heard about how wonderful it would be for the youths to get a skate park. How they need it for their quality of life. I have read many comments in the paper and on social media championing this skate park. Not one of the people who have commented lives in the neighborhood. People want the benefit of the park without the burden. Classic NIMBY. Pearson expresses disappointment that the town did not take into consideration the impact and burden on our neighborhood. Often low-income population needs are diminished, dismissed, and disregarded. Like Pearson, I expected more from Greenfield.

I would hate to relocate. I have the privilege to sell my home to the highest bidder and move on. However, with that goes the below market rent I collect from two households. Or, rent out my unit and there goes another owner-occupied house downtown. Is this what Greenfield wants for downtown homeowners and residents? I ask that the town consider how this site will directly and indirectly affect this neighborhood. Pearson requested “the town practice good government and give its lower class residents the respect and voice that it gives its more prosperous districts.” The Greenfield administration claims to be a community-minded progressive and democratic government. This proposed park is a failed attempt at proving it.

Cheri Monette lives on Davis Street in Greenfield.


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