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In Our Opinion: Council Must Abandon ‘Grandparents’ Park’ Idea

Sometimes, what the Township Council thinks is a good idea doesn’t necessarily reflect public opinion.

Those are not our words; they were spoken by Councilman Will Galtieri on January 12 after dozens of Franklin residents skewered his plan to build a pocket park – Galtieri calls it a “Grandparents’ Park” – near the corner of Willow Avenue and New Brunswick Road.

Galtieri’s plan sounds good: Create a 1-acre park in an area close to housing developments that would welcome kids and also adults and senior citizens.

The park would include the usual array of kids’ playground equipment, but also feature a walking trail, benches and areas adults could exercise.

The “Grandparents’ Park” concept is supported by organizations such as AARP, which is touting such a park it helped build in Wichita, Kansas.

Grandparents’ Parks probably have a place in Franklin Township; they offer a place for seniors who provide day care for their grandchildren a place to take them to get some fresh air and a little exercise.

But the spot chosen by the township for this particular park is, obviously, not the right one.

The Township Council held a special public hearing on the plan on January 12. Public comment was taken for about two hours, and during that entire time, of the dozens of people who commented, only one spoke in favor of the park.

That opposition to the park by people who live in the immediate area must take precedence in the Council’s decision-making process. This is one of the few times over the past seven years or so that residents have been riled up enough to not only attend a Council meeting – although virtually – but in some cases to actually sit through two hours of comments before making their own objections heard.

And the Council cannot ignore a petition with more than 1,500 signatures of people who are opposed to siting the park near a corner that the township itself acknowledges has safety problems.

Surely another location can be found, or perhaps an existing park can be retrofitted to have some of the same elements as the proposed park. (Now that we think of it, why shouldn’t EVERY park in Franklin Township have multi-generational exercise equipment?)

 This is an opportune moment for the Council to show that it really does listen to its residents, and scuttle this plan.

It’s the right thing to do.

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