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Continued vandalism may force officials to sell play lot

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Sunday, June 16, 2002

Crescent Township commissioners are considering selling a community play lot that vandals all but destroyed last month.

Commissioners are following the advice of the township's five-member parks and recreation committee, which recommended in May that the township close the Sautter Drive playground rather than pay to rebuild it.

Commissioner J.R. Meredith said he does not see any reason for the township to keep spending money on a park it cannot protect. He had estimated the cost of rebuilding the park at about $10,000.

"It's just very difficult for the commissioners to keep spending money in an area that we cannot seem to secure," he said. "It would almost require police to go through that area every half-hour or so, and we just simply don't have the manpower to do it."

Workers with the township's public works department on Friday were tearing out the asphalt of the park's small basketball court, which was among the last evidence that a park had been there.

Although Meredith initially said the township would maintain the lot as open green space, he said the township is considering selling the two parcels that make up the park.

"We haven't definitely decided to sell it at the moment," he said. "It's something we want to explore."

The township has met with a real estate agent about selling the land, said Jason Dailey, township manager. The parcels are zoned residential, and a small single-family house could be built there, he said.

"It would make a nice place for a home," Meredith said.

Dailey said proceeds from the sale could be used to the benefit of the township's other play lots and parks. Selling the property would also put the now tax-exempt land back on the tax rolls.

Meredith said he expects a decision on selling the park to be made within two months.

Frank Pastin, who lives next to the park, said he doesn't mind the township removing the park, citing problems with foul-mouthed teens in the middle of the night. He said he was out of town when the most recent vandalism occurred.

"The park was nice for the little kids," he said. "Every now and then, you had to say something about the language."

Although few youngsters live in the neighborhood anymore, Joyce Miller said she and others enjoyed taking their grandchildren to the park. Having the park also meant grandparents didn't have to buy swing sets and play equipment of their own.

"I'd like to see it be left as a place for the kids to go," she said.

William Dowling said that although children often viewed the side of his yard as part of the park, the vandalism was a shame.

"I feel sorry for the younger ones," he said.

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