Have you heard? There’s apparently some sort of controversy about a playground here..?? An insider’s scoop on McMichael Park blows NBC10’s coverage away.
About a day late & a dollar short, guys. NBC10 came out Monday night to cover the “controversy” over McMichael Park’s imminent playground — except there is none. The vast majority of like 100 neighbors gathered for the conceptual presentation seemed delighted with the proposal.
Of course, you can’t please everybody. “The play areas seem a little far from each other, ” one neighbor opined. “It’s kind of frou-frou,” said another.
We were surprised how many people we spoke with felt the design was too natural (?) — they were actually hoping for one that was more like Inn Yard Park’s or Cloverly’s. “Other neighborhoods are going to say East Falls thinks it’s too good for a regular playground,” joked a guy enjoying a free Rita’s water ice.
But aside from design issues, everyone seemed really pumped that the playground was finally going thru. Faces were happy, relaxed with their juice and soft pretzels. Splash Lab Arts had a little station where kids were coloring natural themes. Even the handful of seniors standing tentatively on the group’s periphery with “Save Our Park” signs seemed to be taking in the lovely setting.
No audience Q&A, no debate. Parks Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell kept the meeting short and sweet: Here’s just the most preliminary sketch, here’s how to view & comment. Still need to design it and fund it. There’ll be at least another public meeting, probably. Thank you for coming out. <applause>
One “Save the Park” lady tried waving her hand for a shot at the mic but failed to get the commissioner’s attention. The meeting ended, and parents hung around afterwards, chatting while their kids played. We spotted a news station’s camera and laughed about how they came all the way out here and nothing dramatic happened.
They showed us, though! NBC’s “Renovations to East Falls Park Causes Controversy” filmed the same “Save Our Park” signs from different angles, and suggests that the community is torn over concern for the park’s natural beauty. I get how mainstream news likes to tell two sides of a story — but this is such a non-issue now.
How many neighbors are actively engaged in “saving” McMichael from a playground, do you think? Take a guess, I’ll wait.
Eight. That is the actual count from two separate officials. I am not making this up. It sounds too low, so let’s give them a dozen. So it’s twelve against, like, 900 signatures.
Our insider source stands by this number — in fact, that’s one of the reasons why this person reached out to us. “I think the controversy has been exaggerated — just because the 8 people do more things each day doesn’t make them equal in voice to the rest of East Falls.”
Our source shared more about McMichael’s proposed playground, most emphatically, “It’s happening.” The stickiest issue now is funding, which actually isn’t all that sticky. As we were told…
Essentially, there’s a chunk of money coming for City Parks probably not until City Council meets in November. Both Curtis and Kathryn will receive their own portion of these funds, and then they need to divvy out expenses for the playground between them. There’s more than enough money, but since we’re considered a “neighborhood of means,” we’ll be encouraged/expected to do some fundraising here, too.
So nice to know that plans are moving forward, and that so many neighbors who might not have use for another playground are nonetheless cool with more kids and families in McMichael Park. As the commissioner summed up Monday night, “Some people say these changes are too much, others say that they’re not enough. We think this natural play design is a good compromise to start from.”
Hear, hear! We couldn’t agree more that a playground, of all things, could never really divide this diverse, caring, and cooperative community of people we know as East Falls. Sorry, NBC. The war’s over here — we’re in the “building” stages now.
2018 UPDATE: McMichael Playspace (mcmichaelplayspace.org) is now an official, organized effort. Volunteers and donors needed, reach out on their new Facebook page, follow on Instagram, and keep your eye out for great events like March’s kick-off party at WBC.