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Old 07-26-2007, 06:47 PM
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
30,196 posts, read 67,344,690 times
Reputation: 15841


I left today's Scranton city council meeting disgusted and disappointed that our community's physically-handicapped youth have one less amenity to look forward to at Nay Aug Park---a swing that they would be able to enjoy---simply because of petty political bickering and nonsense.

Douglas Miller, president of junior city council, approached the podium today to announce that the junior council had voted to refund donated money to generous, kind souls who had intended for their chivalry to pay for a handicapped-accessible swingset near to the awesome new handicapped-accessible treehouse at Nay Aug Park. Apparently, Mayor Doherty approved the site 11 months ago, yet now that the project was about to come to fruition, he suddenly changed his mind and would not permit junior council to erect the structure at the agreed-upon site. Instead, it was theorized that it would be "better" to locate the apparatus adjacent to an existing swingset for "normal" children in another portion of the park under the guise of "full inclusion."

While I'm 100% in agreement with the notion of full-inclusion (in theory), if it's not physically-feasible to do so, then why even consider it? I'm not fully-aware of the arrangement of Nay Aug Park, but the only swingset I'm familiar with lies in the newer playground, which is down a rather steep hill below the Genesis Wildlife Center. As correctly-stated by Mr. Miller, it would be quite difficult for parents to push physically-disabled children in wheelchairs down to that site from the treehouse, which is why he rescinded junior council's plans to construct the swingset. I agree with him. Why position this facility in a location that might jeopardize the well-being of the handicapped under the guise of "helping" them?

While I usually tire of Andy Spiraglia's incessant, pointless rants about how "sad" he feels that lowlives who don't pay their taxes might lose their properties due to "draconian measures," he made a brilliant suggestion that was re-inforced by Bob Bolus. Why not build the swingset across from the treehouse and then include additional swings next to it for "normal" children? Mr. Bolus even offered to donate funds to erect the other swings if this project were considered. In this sense, a parent of both handicapped and non-handicapped children could watch their children playing gleefully together, just across from that awesome treehouse, in an area that is easily-accessible to all.

What do others think? Now that Nay Aug Park's reputation is spreading throughout the region for being a greatly-restored recreational destination, it is becoming much, much more popular with visitors. While my friend from France was in for a visit back in early July, he, another friend, and I went to Nay Aug Park on a weekday to have a picnic lunch and could barely find an empty parking spot! Apparently, as much as the whiners at the council meetings like to say that Nay Aug is a wasteful disaster area, many others are enjoying its wonderful amenities. We're missing a grandiose opportunity here to showcase to visitors just how committed the city of Scranton is to making itself accessible to all.
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Old 07-27-2007, 04:30 AM
Location: San Diego native.
470 posts, read 1,554,270 times
Reputation: 118
Has anyone ever participated in an event that allowed them to navigate challenges in the physical environment, while sitting in a wheel chair? That experience demonstrates to me that full inclusion necessitates eliminating those challenges to the greatest extent possible. It's my opinion that the accessible swing should be located in an area that minimizes challenges for kids in chairs and for their care givers. If necessary, move the non-adapted swings near them.
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Old 07-27-2007, 06:41 AM
5 posts, read 17,313 times
Reputation: 13
I agree that there are many different options for where this swingset can go, but to not cooperate and proactively return the $$ before all options were discussed is absurd.

On a side note, I believe there is another playground in the park behind the pool, with a concrete path leading to it, which may be handicap-accessible - might be where the city officials were suggesting the set be placed. It's a better idea to cluster playground equipment together, making it easier for parents to bring their disabled and non-disabled children to the same place to play. Unfortunately, minds were made up, and it doesn't sound like the Bolus offer was on the table until after they decided to give the $$ back. Although, to his and the other's credit, there was an easy solution - to get someone to donate a regular set for by the treehouse.

Regardless, it's sad that this won't happen now. And it's also sad that the junior council made this decision, in my opinion, way too early.
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Old 07-27-2007, 06:50 AM
Location: NE PA
7,936 posts, read 13,863,763 times
Reputation: 4382
SWB, I agree with you, putting the swingset near the new treehouse would be a great idea, and since Mr. Bolus is willing to donate funds towards the "normal" swingset, why not? The reason I think that Doherty would be against it is that he is afraid that Bolus may get the credit for the new swing, and Doherty's inflated ego wouldn't be able to take it. Everything Doherty does is for the purpose of taking credit so he can pad his credentials for a run at a higher political office. He doesn't care about the people, or the kids, of this city. Want proof? Look at the condition of most of the upgrades at Nay Aug. Look at the new playground....its in hideous condition after only 3 years...equipment is falling apart, the sandbox is a garbage pit, trash and grafiti everywhere...and he doesn't care, since he already got the photo op. Look at the "amphitheater," the roof is sitting there caved in the last time I was there. Did you ever check out the playground near the front of the park near the pool? Its not all that old, but is in hideous condition and covered with obscene grafiti. Initially, I liked all of the projects that were done at Nay Aug, but now its once again starting to resemble the Nay Aug of 10 years ago, litter-strewn and unmaintained. I stopped taking my son there and instead go to McDade Park or the Dorothy St playground in Tripp Park.
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Old 08-01-2007, 05:44 AM
Location: Sheeptown, USA
3,233 posts, read 5,927,749 times
Reputation: 900
Default Swing set at center of dispute

Swing set at center of dispute
Scranton’s Junior Council spent nearly a year soliciting donations for a handicapped-accessible swing set to be built next to the wheelchair-accessible treehouse in Nay Aug Park.

After raising $4,000 from several private donors, they marched into Parks and Recreation Director Mark Dougher’s office to share the good news. They even called Mayor Chris Doherty.

But what they heard from city officials devastated the youngsters.

“They said we couldn’t put the set next to the treehouse,” said Junior Council member Douglas Miller, 17.

Mr. Doherty said he was aware of the fundraising, but that no promises were made as to exactly where the set would be located.

“We’ve offered them a location at the playground near the new footbridge, and a location at the rear of the swimming pool,” Mr. Doherty said. “Both locations, we feel, are good for their project, because it allows those with handicaps to play alongside other children.”

Still, the teenagers who make up Junior Council say their preference is the area near the treehouse.

“I don’t think the city is giving us much of a choice,” said Junior Council member Ian Miller, 17, who is not related to Douglas Miller. “We would like the swing set to go near the treehouse, but I guess you can’t fight City Hall.”

The area around the treehouse is not a designated playground and would not be appropriate, Mr. Dougher said.

“There is a lot more involved — not just paying for a swing set, but installing, maintaining and other work,” Mr. Dougher said. He also noted that topographically challenging sites — such as the area next to the treehouse — would require an experienced and creative design team to work with park officials to construct a playground that meets accessibility requirements and safety codes.

Douglas Miller said Junior Council is ready to refund the donations today.

“We are set to refund the money we raised, because we want it at the treehouse location and because it would make sense as the treehouse is handicapped-accessible,” he said. “If it can’t go near the treehouse, where it belongs, than it shouldn’t be there at all.”

James Piazza?, 18, another Junior Council member, said he is a bit more open-minded about the placement of the set.

“I don’t agree with refunding the money, because this is about helping handicapped children and, after doing some homework, maybe the site next to the treehouse isn’t the best site,” he said.

Contact the writer: sbrown@timesshamrock.com

__________________________________________________ ______________

I say just put the swing set up anywhere in the park. People donated their hard earned money towards this project to help handicapped children and probably didn't care where it went as long as it went up somewhere. To give back the money is depriving handicapped children a place to play. To me this is a non issue that is blowing up to be a big thing. Whether Doherty told them it would be in one location doesn't matter. He 's not one to trust on his word anyway, so I wouldn't go by what he said.
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Old 08-01-2007, 08:33 AM
994 posts, read 1,779,960 times
Reputation: 421
I had to do some work with the Florida Parks and Rec office a while back. I was doing a marketing thing for them to promote a new area desiganted preserve and public land. I can clearly remember a gentleman telling me how stupid this rule they where trying to deal with was. It stated that there where discrimination laws that ordered them to build handicapped accesable areas. BUT those areas could not be segregated to one specific spot. That would consitute isolation based on phyiscal constraints. Basically you had to make at least two areas of the park handicapped friendly.

I have no clue if Nay Aug has to follow that rule. MAybe that is why they want to put the swing set someplace else. The tree house is handicap frinedly so maybe they need one other specific area to put th eswingset to be up to code? If anyone can elaborate or correct me please do.
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Old 08-05-2007, 09:19 AM
Location: The Poconos
910 posts, read 2,679,225 times
Reputation: 227
I for one, as a parent of a handicapped child, am appauled at this situation. I live about a half hour from Nay Aug so we don't usually go, but had I known they had handicapped acc. things for my boys to play on I think I'll check it out this week. However, making parents like us who have a hard enough daily routine stretch across the park to blend with 'normal' kids is ridiculous. I'm positive that if you are not a parent or teacher of a special child you just don't get the difficulty.
I'm not sure what comes next in this decision process, but if there is a petition or a gathering of parents I'd love someone to drop me an email I'll be in full support!
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Old 11-01-2007, 02:42 PM
Location: Austin 'burbs
3,226 posts, read 12,869,603 times
Reputation: 757
I know this is an old post, but is there an update on this?

I found this doing a search, I am not even in this state - but have related experience, so I find this interesting.

I am fighting my neighborhood HOA right now, trying to get our park accessible for those with disabilities. I have a child with a mobility disability and uses a walker to get around.

I have to say though, I agree with the official who said not to segregate the park, and that there is more that goes into making an accessible park than throwing up a swing set. There are other areas, surfacing, etc that will have to be made to code.

I want my kids to play together, typical and disabled, and I want my disabled child to experience typical kid play. Yes, yes, it's work getting him down there... I don't doubt it - but I firmly believe those with disabilities don't want "special" treatment - they want EQUAL treatment.

Does anyone have pictures of the proposed location the city council is in favor of, vs the area the junior council wants?

I also agree that refunding the money is ridiculous. WORK WITH the city, make concessions ifyou have to - but get that swing set up! THAT should be the focus, not "winning" the location game. Keep focus on the issue at hand - an accessible swing set for the kids!! These teens may need to do more homework on the appropriate location, and why. I have done considerable research on accessible parks, and believe me it's not an easy undertaking!!
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Old 11-01-2007, 03:08 PM
Location: Drama Central
4,084 posts, read 8,070,155 times
Reputation: 1890
Actually the junior council was pressured to put the swung set where ever the mayor wanted it. So I guess they put it by the regular playground which by the way is at the bottom of a steep sidewalk incline making very hard for any handicaped children to access. Those in wheel chairs have to be pushed up or down the hill and those using crutches and similar devices have to navigate down the hill then back up. Its not everest but its a inconvience, The location that the jr. council originally wanted, needed nothing more than a paved sidewalk less than 50 feet to get to it. Flat and close to parking but thats not what the mayor wanted.
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Old 11-01-2007, 03:44 PM
Location: Sheeptown, USA
3,233 posts, read 5,927,749 times
Reputation: 900
Dan, it always seems to come down to what the mayor wants. It's not about what's good for the city or it's residents. He runs this city thinking he's a king and Scranton is his kingdom for which to do his bidding. He is not a leader or even a good elected official for that matter. He needs to be de-throned from his king's chair in 2009 or Scranton will continue to roll down the hill into financial oblivion.
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