Riverside Files: What are you, Nuts?

This plantation type thinking is one of the things that led to my resignation as chair of Riverside Park Conservancy only a few short months after its formation.

Last night, thinking one of my favorite shows was on (Storage Wars but I usually don’t brag about it) I turned on the TV only to be confronted with The Duck Family or some inane show with a similar name so I quickly switched over to Metrocast channel 25 thinking that Marty Olsen’s show was on but was again met with disappointment.

Last night’s offering in that particular timeslot was The Green Party hosted by Ronna Stuller whose guest was Sandra Chalk and, wonder of wonders, what should they be discussing but something dear to my heart lately; the location of a playscape at Riverside Park.

Both host and guest made no bones about being against a playscape in Riverside referring to the inappropriateness of a “plastic playscape” in one of New London’s most beautiful parks.  Coincidentally, both Mses. Chalk and Stuller have been working on coming up with a plan that they freely admitted might not be implemented for five, ten or more years but would be worth waiting for.

I guess the term “worth waiting for” would depend on who you asked.

If you were to ask the thousands of families and children who live in East New London and presently have no recreational equipment, other than a small playscape located at the dangerous intersection of Crystal Avenue and State Pier Rd, if they would mind waiting five, ten or more years to get a playscape, I suspect that the answer would be a resounding “What are you, nuts?” or something similar.

I’m sure that the plan being worked on by Sandra Chalk, Director of New London Landmarks, and aided by Ronna Stuller, Treasurer of Riverside Park Conservancy, will be impressive but there are a few problems associated with it.

One being that it is another plan like many others that people have completed over the years with little or nothing to show for it.  Included among past plans are General Plan of a Park and Playground 1913, New London Parks and Recreation Master Plan 1999 and Riverside Nature Park and Recreational District 2011.

Two, although New London Landmarks has held many meetings regarding the future of Riverside Park, none have been held in the public housing projects where many residents are members of a minority group, are very much impacted by what does or does not happen in East New London and, yet, have had little or no say in the “free” workshops provided by New London Landmarks.

This plantation type thinking is one of the things that led to my resignation as chair of Riverside Park Conservancy only a few short months after its formation.

Three, there is no money to implement the plan when it is completed and the residents of East New London, many of whom are without the resources available to wealthier residents in other sections of the city, are in need now.

Many of the families living in East New London eat Mac and Cheese or spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, not Coquilles St. Jacque or Lobster Newburgh; How can anyone in good conscience support a generation of kids missing out on a safe peaceful place to play and having fun while we wait for another plan to come to fruition-or not.

As Wayne Vendetto, another former member of the Conservancy, said when we were discussing the need for a playscape at Riverside Park now rather than waiting for five or ten years “I’d like a Maserati too but I’m not going to keep walking until I get one.”

And although he was talking about a battle of a different type, General George S Patton wrote “A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” I think that applies in this situation.

In his recent Guest Editorial which appeared in The Day, Vendetto writes “…$1 million was spent in the renovation of the parking lot at Bates Woods. Currently, the city is seeking bids for a nearly $1 million renovation of Calkins Park. It is appropriate to spend tax dollars on the kids of New London and the infrastructure that contributes to their quality of life, including at Bates Woods and Calkins Park.  The problem is that the money for the children is not distributed equitably.”

Winthrop Cove- The improvements recommended for Winthrop Cove are much along the same lines as those at Shaw Cove. The opportunity, however, is not so great, the amount of land available, about 5 acres, being more limited. Nevertheless, the change would bring about a veritable transformation in one of the most unsightly and conspicuous sections of the city.........

The children and families of East New London have been waiting a very long time for what others in the more affluent sections of our city take for granted.

Please don’t make them wait longer.





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Henry January 10, 2013 at 05:59 PM
Sure looks to me that part of the park needs to be sold/passed to the Coast Guard because I am sure they will not only develop a plan but they will implement the plan! By splitting up the area those of you in New London will have less to deal with and then maybe you will be able to get something as simple as putting up a play set in Riverside Park done. Maybe you would be able to "sneak" a play set in while fighting over the park ownership.
Wayne Vendetto January 10, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Henry, we, and by we I mean the people who actually live in New London, have given a great deal of thought to your idea. We dismissed it because there was no way of getting the playscape over the barbed wire fence the CGA would have installed had they actually won. Aside from that, you are a little confused about the present issue. The issue is not whether a playscape will be installed, it is a question of when. Do not be fooled into thinking New Londoners are so divided on this issue, that they cannot unite over the common ground of maintaining ownership of Riverside
Kathleen Mitchell January 11, 2013 at 04:01 AM
No one I know is talking about getting rid of the park. We're talking about getting things, like installing a playscape, done NOW. As you no doubt know, the kids in that end of town have been waiting for a playscape and other improvements for a long time. We won the battle to keep the park a year ago and there's no reason for the lack of a playscape. This isn't about who is right or wrong. It's simply about getting things moving.
Kathleen Mitchell January 11, 2013 at 04:03 AM
All of which reminds me that there is a meeting this Monday at City Hall to discuss the placement of a playscape at Riverside Park. It was almost a year ago, February 21, 2012, that I asked the City Council to do that. It would be nice if you could make the meeting.
Jeff Howard January 11, 2013 at 04:04 AM
Henry There is no reason to get rid of the park.... The kids love the park and its the best park in New London! I think we need to stop making it all about who is right and get done what we all planned when we fought for the park!


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