Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ridgewood Mothers Want Park Renovations By Rebecca Henely -

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Ridgewood residents and mothers Cristina Shonk and Dorota Czyzewska stand in front of one of two open gates at Rosemary's Playground in Ridgewood. The mothers say the open gates pose a hazard to the children who play in the park. Photo by Rebecca Henely

For the last two months, Ridgewood residents and mothers Cristina Shonk and Dorota Czyzewska have been trying to get conditions improved at Rosemary’s Playground, a public park between Woodward and Fairview avenues and Woodbine and Madison streets, but they said the city Parks Department has not helped them in their efforts.

“You don’t even know what’s going on here,” Czyzewska said.

Czyzewska, who has lived in the area for five years and has two children — 3-year-old Bruno and 3-month-old Adela — said there are numerous problems at the park, which has a playground for younger children. She said the park has had problems with people who come in and sleep on the benches, smoke pot on the basketball courts or publicly urinate in the park. She said she also found condoms in the raised patch of grass.

“It’s not in the worst condition possible,” Shonk said, “but there’s a lot of infringement of rules and regulations.”

But Shonk, who has also lived in the area for five years and has three children — Francis, 3; Bernardo, 1; and Cecilia, 4 months — said the biggest problem in the park is that the two large gates, which are on Madison and Woodbine streets, are usually not closed, which leaves mothers in fear their children will run out of the park and into the streets. The gates are also old and difficult for parents to close on their own, Shonk said.

“I’m scared for life of him [Bruno] going into the street,” said Czyzewska, who often lets her older son play while she feeds or watches baby Adela.

Czyzewska said the maintenance staff of the park has been inconsistent. While some will keep the gates closed, others will not and have refused to clean up broken glass and dog feces in the playground when asked, she said.

Shonk and Czyzewska have tried to get things changed. Czyzewska has written to the Parks Department and has been planning to get a petition from mothers at the park to get the gates closed, but they are not sure where to send it to. She has also written to the office of City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).

Trish Bertuccio, press officer for the Parks Department, said the staffers have kept the gates closed. To keep the gates locked at night, Community Board 5 needs to approve the measure and volunteers are needed to keep the park closed.

Crowley wrote a letter to Dorothy Lewandowski, borough commissioner for the Parks Department, on June 18, asking the Parks Department to clean the park and keep the gates closed.

Meredith Burak, spokeswoman for Crowley, said the Parks Department told them they had cleaned the park but could not keep the gates locked at night.

“If it’s still a problem, it’s definitely something we can address again,” Burak said.

Czyzewska said she continues to go to the park because she knows most of the mothers who go there and they are able to help her watch Bruno when she is caring for her baby and also because there are few places for children in her son’s age group to play.

“Young kids, they have nothing to do here,” she said.