Letters to the editor, Dec. 19

Fences cut off access to kids’ ‘sleigh hill’

The 20th Street Loop hill on Saturday afternoon (Photo by William Oddo)

The 20th Street Loop hill on Saturday afternoon (Photo by William Oddo)

To tenant organizers and local elected representatives,

For the first time in Stuyvesant Town’s history this past weekend, our children were prevented from sleigh riding on the “hill” safely because of the installation of a hideous bent metal fence and posts. The metal fence created an obstacle for kids to safely sleigh ride as they have done after every snow event for generations.

Kids were attempting to sleigh ride and have fun while avoiding the perils of the metal fence and poles. In fact, the higher and more fun hill was just too dangerous so most kids and parents used the adjacent smaller and slower area. To top it off even the Oval was fenced off.

I’m writing to you all because there is no one in management to address or contact concerning this very timely issue.  As many of you know, the “hill” along 20th Street Loop and Oval as it known is the only “sleigh ride hill” within a radius of more than three miles of our community. Without any capital expenditure, or entrance fee or expensive “produced family event” our kids were able to just have fun in the snow.

However, the current management is on a tear to fence off virtually every bit of space no matter how absurd the effect or benefit. Management has fenced off areas so small that the fences themselves comprise more area than the space it protects besides wasting money. It has even included a fenced off access to the Oval lawn Christmas tree (reserved for summer “practically no bathing suit” sunbathing) and a second fence around the new and not ready for prime time “Christmas” tree.

So please use your collective access to see if you can contact anyone in management to “temporarily” remove these “temporary wire fences.” They can be removed quickly and reinstalled later if needed at all.

In all fairness, I understand that leaf control was a partial reasons for metal fence policy. However, the many private park spaces have employed much less costly temporary natural material during late fall season, then removed it later. It has also been reported that fences were installed by management partly in response to complaints from tenants of pets ruining our flower garden areas. Perhaps a discussion could be organized to address these concerns and perceptions and resident pet owners’ concerns and not have our children suffer from a poorly thought out management policy.

What should management (who ever they are) do now? What you could tell them:

• Start by recognizing this longtime community activity and put in place temporary measures to support sleigh riding on the “hill” for our children.
• Remove the wire fence and metal poles.
• Install temporary safe barricades at the curb to protect sleigh riders like redeployed haystacks from Halloween events.
• Create a temporary safe walking path adjacent to the “hill” for other residents.
• Redeploy security personnel from standing inside the skating rink tent and post them outside in advance of the “hill” to protect kids and direct traffic.
• Open up the Oval (early spring is plenty of time to restore grass for sunbathers).

A longstanding community activity like “sleigh riding on the hill” supports an authentic and vital community. As a student of urban planning, community activities like these are a designer’s delight that planners, developers and architects work mightily to create. It’s what current management has failed to recognize here.

Lastly, this management team’s effort to control and watch everything in this community only serves to undermine and ruin their efforts. Worse yet, the world knows a fence, a wall or “security” camera can never contain a genuine human activity. I would be happy to help in this effort and appreciate a tenant organization’s or others’ response.

Respectfully,

William Oddo,
Resident, organizer of Stuyvesant Town
Quiet Oval Group 

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