Some of you will remember that our children’s playground was located on the Franklin Avenue side of the building before we built our new education wing in 2007. Because we were putting in a rain garden, the playground was moved to the Groveland Avenue side of the building.
Over the years, it has become apparent that this is not the best place for the playground. It’s not a convenient distance from the classrooms for supervision. In recent years, we have seen more drug usage in our neighborhood, and our custodians or the school staff must do a needle sweep before the children go out to play. During the pandemic, the number of guests who frequent the Food Shelf has quadrupled, which means there is a great deal of traffic flow beside the playground.
Last August, I was in the courtyard when I heard multiple gunshots. I ran, along with a friend of mine, to the Theater and found a preschool teacher who said that there were more children on the playground. The shooting happened directly across Groveland from the playground. We found the children and teachers huddled behind the slide, and we shielded them with our bodies while calling the police and discerning how to get the children in the building safely. No one was injured, but we were all traumatized.
I made a promise to work on making our playground safe. The most obvious way to do that is to move it back to the Franklin side, where there is direct access into the classrooms. The Buildings and Grounds Committee discussed options and procured bids. The Board of Finance and Administration has made a proposal for funding this project, and the Deacons are now bringing it you for your input.
The Deacons are working on a larger site plan to become a place of radical hospitality. This is one small step. For those of you concerned about the loss of one of our rain gardens, there may be other options for new spaces for a rain garden.
Please join us on Sunday, November 8, at 11:30 a.m. for a Zoom conversation about moving the playground and a brief report on the initial exploration of the larger site plan. To register for the conversation, click here.