By JESSICA ARSENAULT RIVENBURG
ILION – Thanks to vandals, misuse and general wear and tear, the Montgomery Street playground equipment is closed for good.
Mayor John Stephens made the announcement online Aug. 4, saying, “There are issues with the condition of this apparatus that could injure the user and the overall cleanliness is less than desirable.”
The park itself remains open during the day, with the swings and basketball courts fully operational. Only the playground equipment itself is off limits – roped off by yellow police tape, Stephens said. However, due to repeated misuse of the grounds, which has primarily been happening at night, village officials are now enforcing the usage hours posted on the park fence of, roughly, dawn to dusk, he said. Ilion police officers lock the gate between 8 and 9 p.m., and Department of Public Works employees unlock it again around 8 a.m.
“We’re going to abide by that for the time being,” Stephens said. “No one should be inside the park for any reason when the gate is locked.
“There’s been some vandalism,” he continued. “When we visited the playground, what we found was less than desirable, and in my opinion, the equipment itself is no longer safe. Someone could get hurt.”
Officials are not abandoning the playground, Stephens stressed. The plan is to replace the equipment as soon as possible. Deputy Mayor Kari Allen, liaison to the recreation commission, is taking the lead on this endeavor.
Allen said she is in the early stages of applying for a grant.
The current equipment has been in place since the mid-1990s, when village residents, lead by Barbara Cristman, raised the money to purchase what, at the time, was a top-of-the-line playground.