My sons and I rode our bikes to Greenwood Park the other day, before all the snow fell and made it look like Christmas all over again.
While I enjoy living so close to a city park that can be a destination for a family outing, I was again struck by how little there is for my little boys to do.
The majority of Greenwood Park is consumed by fields for soccer and softball, and the splash park the city built there is definitely a highlight in the summer. There’s a nice picnic pavilion, and the football teams practice at this park each summer.
But when it comes to playground equipment, this park is sorely lacking.
When we moved to Medina 10 years ago, the park had some antique playground equipment — a couple of swings and a rusty merry-go-round, and two of those rocking animals on large springs, plus a couple of newer slides and climbing equipment combined in a single piece. Soon after, the city removed the old equipment — I couldn’t say I was sorry to see them go — and we waited to see what fun new toys would be placed there instead.
We waited, and we have waited.
In 10 years, nothing has come.
What remains is a large climbing structure with a tall metal slide on one side, and a yellow tubular slide on the other, with a fire pole.
While my 5-year-old has finally mastered the challenge of climbing solo to the top and gleefully enjoys the slides and pole, the fun stops there. It is too high and too scary for my almost-2-year-old to enjoy unless I carry him to the top and slide down with him — and I barely fit down the tube. It is not enough challenge for older children, and they have clearly found other ways to enjoy the structure by covering it in graffitti.
And I’ll tell you, graffiti annoys me to no end. I really don’t care who is Kelsey’s BFF, or who is proclaiming her love of Tyler, or what you think of Austin and his mother. It is inappropriate, rude, and a sheer waste of resources. I am appalled that children think this is somehow OK to scribble in permanent ink all over equipment they don’t individually own, and it would be a senseless waste even if they did.
Last summer I got into a sparring match with a couple of preteen boys there who thought it was OK to skateboard on top of the picnic tables and to jump off of them. This was in the middle of the day, with a fair number of people around. I was astounded that they thought this was OK behavior, and even more so when they lipped back at me, basically telling me that I couldn’t tell them what to do. I was so angry, I was prepared to call the police, but they finally backed down and left. Lord help them if they were my children!
While a certain amount of graffitti and shenanigans are unavoidable and possible even a rite of passage for some children, I think the city could do more to make the park more attractive for kids to use as it was intended. The splash pad is definitely a step in the right direction. But I wager that more kids live in walking distance to Greenwood Park than any other park in Medina, and it needs more than that.
Twenty years ago, that was not the case, and JUMP Park was built to appeal to a wide variety of ages of children. While it still is a mecca for many families, I think the neighborhood around that park has fewer young children these days than it did then.
The city has not kept up.
And so, as it did in the late 1980s when JUMP was built by volunteers, it may fall on the shoulders of the community to step up and push for improvements.
Just recently, the MOMS Club of Medina-West held a Breakfast with the Easter Bunny with all proceeds benefitting a new community playground at Fred Greenwood Park.
I tried contacting the group but didn’t get a response, so I don’t know how successful they were, or what they have discussed with the city officials, but I hope they are able to make a difference.
Isn’t that what being a mom is all about?