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Residents concerned about New Castle playground hazards

NEW CASTLE, Ind. -- Playing on slides, merry-go-rounds and jungle gyms at some New Castle parks just isn’t option for some kids there.

“To me that’s pretty dangerous,” said Dennis Ferree as he pointed out one perceived safety issue after another. “Look how rotted that is.”

Instead, residents like Dennis Ferree say too many years of neglect have made the playgrounds too dangerous for kids. They say after months and even years of asking the city to do something, they’re out of options.

“I have a little granddaughter, so I’m thinking about her little fingers when I’m looking at stuff,” said Ferree. “I don’t think they have any maintenance program. Well, I know they don’t. You can go around and see it.”

Equipment has been left untouched for so long, Ferree and others have replaced a baby swing and put pool noodles around rusted, metal pieces.

“A local person in the county, lives over in Middeltown, came over and did it originally and I came over about a week or two ago and did them again, because they came off,” said Ferree.

Mayor Greg York disputes the neighbors’ claims that nothing is being done. He also says the city has a limited budget and neighbors could be helping more too.

“We have work days and we paint, we trim bushes,” said York. “I would presume that the people that’s on the phone calls, that’s calling you, they never donate any money, they never come to work days, they never help chipping in.”

He blames vandals, instead, for most of the damage.

“Every park, we repair it at the beginning of every summer and it gets tore up and we just try to play catch up to try to keep it fixed,” said Mayor Greg York.

Mariah Allen, who lives down the street, says that’s impossible. Hunter Willey, playing basketball independently backed that up, saying he hasn’t seen any major work done at the park in the years he’s seen in the two years he’s lived right across from it.

He’s especially concerned about the slide, where he’s seen young kids hurt themselves.

“Most of them are toddlers,” said Willey. “When they run up that slide, they don’t check to see how far off the ground it is and they slide down and they just hit the ground.”

At the North Main park a few miles away, we heard more complaints from other neighbors.

It’s unsafe,” said Allen. “I mean, if I had small children or grandchildren. I wouldn’t let them come in the park.”

While the mayor touted the new skate park they’re building and park tables recently put in, people nearby say they’re more concerned about the old equipment taken from the National Guard armory  and brought to the park last fall.

It’s still lying there, uninstalled, with concrete still attached to the posts.

“Laziness,” said Allen. “That’s the only thing I can think of.”

Allen is also concerned that in parks where the city has acted to remove some hazardous equipment, they’ve left pieces of metal sticking out of the ground.

“I ask anybody in the city,” said Allen. “Would you allow your children to come and play on this equipment? The answer would probably be no.”

They want changes, until the answer is yes.

The mayor said a crew is already scheduled to work on repairs at Hospital Heights next week.