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Viewfinder: Meckauer Park in Early April

Children play and adults walk the track in Meckauer Park.

Children play and adults walk the track in Meckauer Park now that spring weather is finally upon us.

Carolyn April 07, 2011 at 02:16 PM
Meckauer Park? You mean that place I and my family called Ragweed Park? The place that grows weeds to eight feet in height, with nary a trim? The place with signs telling one (or one's children) what to do, say, think, and see? That place that is a kiddie playground with parking lot that looks like it was bombed in Beirut? The place surrounded by a sagging chain link fence, through which the occasional car from the surrounding road crashes, barreling through path and lawn of the park where people are? C'mon, please--don't write articles praising Meckauer, because, to Bethel's shame, it does nothing to make IT'S ONLY CITY PARK pleasant, clean, and safe for ANYONE. I wasn't being tongue-in-cheek about those weeds--that was literal. By the time August arrives, anyone with allergies had best steer clear of the its towering varieties. Meckauer needs proper management. It needs a stone wall to protect it from surrounding traffic. It needs a freshly-paved parking lot. It needs weed management and strategic plantings. It needs to get rid of dopey signs that tell us what we're supposed to be doing with our five senses while we take our walks. (Duh.) It needs a ladies room with a SINK, for crying out loud. Please, Bethel--give this town's only park the upgrades and management it deserves!
Alicia Craybas April 07, 2011 at 04:06 PM
Parloa Park is a quaint, in town park with facilities open during sports seasons....located on the corner of Blackman Ave and South St
Bother April 07, 2011 at 06:34 PM
I think it's pretty nice. Central Park, it ain't. We are a little town and this is our park. I go often and see many, many Bethelites enjoy it. I encourage everyone to go and see for themselves. Maybe you will agree with Carolyn, above, and maybe you will find you enjoy it as much as I do. It's free. Go take a walk.
Carolyn April 07, 2011 at 07:55 PM
Parloa Park is indeed nice--it is what it is, no more, no less. In other words, it's complete as it was designed to be. NOT SO Meckauer Park. Peter, I submit that there's a lot of space between Meckauer and Central Parks, eh? You don't need to be one--underdeveloped, scraggly, dangerous--or the other--six beautiful miles of track, field, nature and ponds. We may be a "little" town, but are we so "little" we can't have the basic amenities and manicuring in our ONE "little" park? Please--Bethel has been the "second rate" town in an area of nice towns long enough, imo. What with the economy closing so many of our stores and with the town library struggling to achieve its upgrades for years and years--not to mention the years that the high school was underfunded and undercredited--can't we please just have a complete, nice, PARK? Start SOMEwhere, Bethel!!
Bother April 07, 2011 at 10:35 PM
The playground equipment in Meckauer Park is less that a year old, newly replaced, for both toddlers and for the 5 to 12 year olds (separate areas). There is a newly paved 1/2 mile track. The old monkey bars in the far end was removed, making the park safer. the Boy Scouts have put in a few very nice benches. There are new plantings along the path and along the fence that separated the path from the road. Believe me, I have no interest in getting any more people into Meckauer Park but I have found that every year the place is a little nicer than it was the year before. I guess it could be better manicured and the bathrooms could be nicer. Still, considering the battle it is to get tax revenues for the schools and other services, I'm pretty happy with the park. I live near it and I am happy to take my daughter there frequently. We also enjoy Putnam Park (both sides) and Huntington Park. If the Boy Scouts can contribute their time and effort to putting in new benches and the town has paved the path and upgraded all the playground equipment, all in the past two years, maybe we have started.
Alicia Craybas April 08, 2011 at 11:11 AM
My 2 cents as a resident and Parks volunteer: I personally went door to door to business asking for funds to be donated to repair and replace all the equipment at Parloa around 2000/2001 with Keli Anderson Leaden and a few other moms in town. Are you new to Bethel ? perhaps you did not realize all that we ,the town of Bethel have actually done. We did huge cleanup and repairs/replacements at Meckauer and Parloa in the last few years , much of which is donated by local companies like Ring's End, Gault and others who have their own trade businesses. Get a group together like Keli and I did in the past and raise the awareness and funds to fix it up. The ponds at Meckauer and Bennett need dredging and cleaning, but who knows when that will happen...Things take time and money and effort and most of all,volunteers to pick up the slack where needed. The fields in town for sports are more than 50% cleaned by that association's volunteer crew. The Mitchell Park is cleaned by Bethel Baseball, the Bobcat field by BYF and CC and more. Carolyn, we had 3 feet of snow as late as a few weeks ago plus intense rains that washed everything out. The weather has not been cooperative for massive park cleanup yet, I am sure that it will get done as soon as the weather breaks and becomes warmer. Take a walk! A leisurely walk through town to Parloa and back can really be eye opening as there are many new shops , restaurants and entertainment to enjoy.
Wendy Mitchell April 08, 2011 at 01:20 PM
CAROLYN: Organizing groups of volunteers, as Alicia said, is the key to getting necessary renovations at Meckaur Park completed. Kid's Kingdom, a beautiful park/playground in Brookfield, was built in FIVE days- all by volunteers. http://brookfield.patch.com/articles/kids-kingdom-turns-twenty-one People in Brookfield saw a need, and instead of complaining about it took action and got the job done. Two decades later when their park needed renovations, volunteers again stepped up to the plate and said, "sign me up!" Read the comments here: http://brookfield.patch.com/articles/petition-circulating-for-350000-kids-kingdom
Carolyn April 08, 2011 at 02:39 PM
So I should organize people to cut down 8 foot weeds I dare not go near? Install a sink in the bathroom? Build a stone wall that would safely enclose the park? Look, ladies, I appreciate what you tell me the town's citizens have already done, but when is THE TOWN ITSELF going to put aside some funds to take care of these things? And yes, here it comes: We pay taxes, don't we?? I'm not insensitive to your pride in what you've accomplished in the kiddie parks; I think that's great. But honestly, can the TOWN government please do something---with our tax dollars---for the ADULTS? Not enough tax dollars? Then maybe someone with a stone company can offer to build a wall. Or a plumber can offer to install a sink. Or someone not allergic to weeds and with landscaping abilities--like the Hollandia people, for exampole--can offer to help with that problem. The motivating force behind building kiddie sets is clear. But who in the town government is going to do anything about getting behind an effort to make the park better for ALL of us? But I fear that years of more whining about not enough money is in our future, just as it has been in the schools, ad nauseum, for years to come, no matter how much in taxes we pay.
Alicia Craybas April 08, 2011 at 02:50 PM
Mason Medic HAS built walls and repairs...so has Nils Burkstrom of Burkstrom plumbing and The Anderson family for plumbing and Hollandia gives always without fail as does Paul S Caso landscaping and Peter Amaral.........I'm not going to comment on this any further on this as the Bethel volunteers and small businesses in town have contributed more than you know, Carolyn. I am sure that repairs to bathrooms and weed removal are on Spring clean up lists to be done when they can.
Wendy Mitchell April 08, 2011 at 02:53 PM
No, I'm not saying you personally should do those things, but if you feel strongly enough about it, which from your comments I can see that you do, you can start a petition like residents did in Brookfield did, you can write a letter to the First Selectman's office, the Board of Finance, etc. If you read the article on Brookfield Patch about what they are doing to get funds needed for their renovations you will see that it is possible: "A new petition began circulating Sunday to set the date for a Town Meeting to approve $350,000 to renovate Kids Kingdom if the March 8 referendum to approve $500,000 for the project fails.The petition will be submitted on March 9 but only if the $500,000 proposal fails, according to Zoning Commission member Stanley Parker, who is helping to circulate the petition. If the petitioners are able to obtain signatures from at least 3 percent of the registered voting population of Brookfield (293 signatures), then, by section C9-5 of the Town Charter, the motion would go to a Town Meeting, where residents can vote on the proposal. If the measure passes at the Town Meeting, it will still need approval from the Board of Finance (BOF), whose chairman, Bill Tinsley, is also collecting signatures."
Diane Ryan April 08, 2011 at 04:02 PM
I agree. The only way issues get prioritized is if people bring their concerns to government, get a plan going, get people and businesses together to donate and work together on it. If it bothers you, do something about it or write a concerned but not scathing letter to the Park and Rec department noting your concerns and asking what is planned. But know that all budgets are tight and a lot of that is due to operating and healthcare costs. When people see a need in town, they're very giving and work amicably together to get the job done to better our town. It takes people working together positively with the town. Boy scouts have also done work for Eagle projects to better parks, trails and areas in town with signs, bridges, benches, tables and landscaping that have improved them through the years. It's approved by the town, organized by the Scout, but donated by businesses and worked on by Scouts and parents. FYI, Mekauer Park was renovated in the late 80's / early 90's by a huge group of people including me and my husband. It's been renovated several times since then with a fire occuring once that ruined part of it. Never saw the high weeds at Mekauer, but broken fencing near Payne Rd. does needs replacing. The parking lot could use work due to water run off issues ruining parts of it, but redirecting water and repaving is expensive. Despite this, we have some of the best maintained sports fields, parks and downtown compared to other towns. I'm proud to live here.
Carolyn April 08, 2011 at 04:34 PM
Okay, look. I'm an organizer, but atm I just don't have the time to be one. That's just my life atm, plain and simple. I came on here and saw the pics about Meckauer and all my exasperation spilled forth. I actually had to quit walking there because the 8-foot high weeds caused a severe sinus infection. I'm not "dissing" your town, I've merely vented about a situation, one that seems to me to go ignored by those in charge of the budget, year after year. It just irritates me no end that a town government will allow a broken fence, WITH CARS HAVING ALREADY BARRELED THROUGH IT MORE THAN ONCE, to go unfixed. Again, I'm in no way able to spearhead a movement. I can only hope that my comments here may inspire someone else (maybe, even, the Town Selectman?? Imagine....).
Wendy Mitchell April 08, 2011 at 08:18 PM
Here is First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker's response to the comments sent to me via email: From: Matt Knickerbocker <knickerbockerm@betheltownhall.org> View Contact To: Wendy Mitchell <wendymitchell09@yahoo.com> Matt Knickerbocker1.vcf (1KB) Hi, Wendy, Here's my response: After reading the comments on The Patch, I drove over to Meckauer at lunch time today to inspect the park. Here's what I found. Meckauer is maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department. The park is officially closed throughout the winter months, as are our practice fields and sports facilities. Meckauer reopened for the season on April 1st, and although spring cleanup is still in process, the park is clean and in very good condition. The playground equipment was recently replaced and is still "like new", in my opinion. The play area is surrounded by a chain link fence that is in good condition, with a new stone retaining wall along one side. The missing piece of the outer perimeter fence the writer refers to was replaced last year. In addition, the overgrowth and vines that had grown up along the outer fence have been cleaned out. continued....
Wendy Mitchell April 08, 2011 at 08:19 PM
continued... There are no "8 foot weeds." I think the writer may be referring to the tall native wetland grasses that grow naturally around the pond. For most of the season those are left in their natural condition by design, as they help control erosion. They are occasionally trimmed back in the summer, depending on their condition. The rest rooms are certainly not luxurious, but they were very clean, well stocked with supplies and all plumbing fixtures were in good working order. Perhaps the writer hasn't visited the park recently to see that the park is actually in very good shape. If any damage or vandalism is found, I encourage our park visitors to report them to the Parks and Recreation office so it can be promptly addressed. Matthew S. Knickerbocker First Selectman Town of Bethel Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Center 1 School Street Bethel, CT 06801 Office: 203-794-8501 Fax: 203-778-7520
Wendy Mitchell April 08, 2011 at 08:29 PM
Re: Meckaur From: Matt Knickerbocker <knickerbockerm@betheltownhall.org> View Contact To: Wendy Mitchell <wendymitchell09@yahoo.com> Matt Knickerbocker1.vcf (1KB) Hi, Wendy, I just saw this email, so let me add some info: Meckauer is maintained by the Parks and Rec department (I might have also said that in the other email). There is a rest room renovation plan in place within our 5-year capital plan, but it is not scheduled for this upcoming season. Nonetheless, the facilities I examined to day were spotless. Old, for sure, but perfectly clean and working. Matthew S. Knickerbocker First Selectman Town of Bethel Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Center 1 School Street Bethel, CT 06801 Office: 203-794-8501 Fax: 203-778-7520
Bother April 08, 2011 at 11:38 PM
I am so delighted that my photos of kids playing in the park became the spark that started such a terrific discussion. It makes me very happy to see how many people care about the park.
sunfun June 07, 2011 at 04:32 PM
I love the park .. go there regularly with my 2 kids. If looking for volunteers .. I'll be game and drag my 2 along too -- although they're little, they're enthusiastic.
Carolyn June 08, 2011 at 03:57 AM
I'm just revisiting this topic, as it's been updated....Matt, didn't see your reply till now. Friend, it's a bit disingenuous of you to say that there are "no 8 foot weeds"--it was April when we had this discussion! *LOL* Wow, Matt, you got to talking like a politician really, really fast. :D Anyway, I am relatively new to Bethel in the sense that I didn't know what things had been done, as Alicia writes. I meant no disrespect to your work or to others', Alicia. I was just expressing my frustration. I'm used to parks being as peaceful and restful for adults as well as kids, and I'm sorry, but deadly, untrimmed ragweed and no way to wash my hands after using the lav just seemed a bit vile to me. I *did* notice that someone has since fixed the fence...was it my little tempest in a teapot that got that fixed?? Either way, I'm happy it's finally fixed, as prior to its repair, there were tire tracks going from the road to the edge of the pond, where some car had carreened right into the park! Wow, dangerous just a little, yes? Anyway, I'm glad to hear there are long term plans; better than nothing. Now if they'd just remove those stupid Dick Jane Sally/Romper Room signs, that would be awesome. ;o)
Val June 08, 2011 at 05:09 PM
Weren't those 'Dick/Jane' signs put there by a Boy Scout earning his Eagle badge? I may be wrong but I do know the Boy Scouts have helped clean up the park. I personally like the signs, they are there for those that like to have 'extra' information. Maybe to show their kids just what plants are around. Just like when you take a hike through a National Park or similar, they are there to inform you of the local vegetation. I also REALLY REALLY like the doggie bags that are supplied!! They are not the cheap ones either! They come in handy when I forget my own doggie bags. THANK YOU for those!
Carolyn June 08, 2011 at 05:50 PM
Nature, imo, should not have signs inserted between its leaves and branches, telling anyone, even children, "how" to experience it. I'm reminded of a favorite walk I had when I was a child. It was a path that ran behind my elementary school. School windows were on my right, trees, bushes and flowers were on my left. An introspective and dreamy kind of child, I often walked this path, imagining and dreaming as I went. In my mind, the path had a name: "Memory Lane." I don't know what prompted the name, but I do know that I felt vast amounts of possibilities opening to me in the creative conversations prompted by nature--birds, flowers, bees--as I walked. Conversely, at Mackauer, what should be a similar reverie in the park for any child or adult--sans media of any kind telling us what to say, think, feel, buy, do, etc.---is transformed into a Sesame Street/commercial/media venture--being told, even on a quiet walk. HOW to think. Am I too sensitive to my surroundings? Maybe so. But so was Thoreau, or Emerson. The opinion I expressed here has nothing whatever to do with _who_ put up the signs (in this case, Boy Scouts eager to earn merit badges).

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