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February 04. 2014 1:54AM

Nashua debates where to site playground

NASHUA — Although the future home of Legacy Playground still has not been determined, strides were made Monday night when neighbors, planners and officials gathered for a discussion about where the full accessible play structure should be sited.

For the past year, there has been significant debate over whether the playground should be built at Greeley Park — the first choice of organizers.

The playground should not be a source of contention, said Sy Mahfuz of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce.

Everyone agrees the playground will be beneficial, but they can't agree on where it should be housed, he said.

"No one is against your project," said Kimberly Muise, member of the Nashua Board of Education. Muise, however, said she has serious concerns about the lack of parking at Greeley Park, and the substantial traffic along Concord Street.

Jeff Kleiner of Nashua agreed, saying perhaps a professional third party should intervene by visiting the city, analyzing all possible locations and determining what site would be best suited for children with disabilities.

"I think that would be fair to the kids," he said. "That is the front yard of the city. It is our front yard."

Although some people disagree with Greeley Park as the playground's future home, others say a different site within the park should be considered. Currently, organizers are proposing that the playground be built on the west side of Greeley Park behind an existing stone bathhouse.

However, some people suggested that Legacy Playground would be more ideal across the street on the west side either by the current horseshoe pit or where the existing, old play structure is now.

"Whatever decisions we make now, we really need to think about," said Muise, adding it would be devastating to have to revisit this issue after the playground has been built and realize that a parking lot must be added.

Eric Brand, one of the organizers, stressed that many locations were considered including Labine Park, Sargent Avenue Park and Lincoln Park. However, he said, Greeley Park was determined to be the best option, in part because it is secluded, quiet, shady and has access to a nearby bathroom facility.

"We are not just looking to replace a playground, we are looking to put a lot of thought into it," he said, noting that the playground will be suitable for individuals with not only mobility challenges, but also sensory issues.

The playground will be no larger than 12,000-square-feet, and no mature, healthy trees will be removed during installation of the playground, according to the proposal.

Legacy Playground was introduced more than a year ago when former graduates from Leadership Greater Nashua began spearheading a community project to raise $250,000 for the state's largest universally accessible playground designed for people of all ages and abilities — a gift to the city. To date, more than $130,000 has been raised to build the structure that still has no place to call home.

Members of the aldermanic Infrastructure Committee, along with about 25 members of the public, were still working to reach some type of compromise at the time of this report.

The Board of Aldermen will eventually have to authorize any decision that would directly impact Greeley Park.

khoughton@newstote.com


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