NASHUA — Numerous individuals packed Nashua City Hall on Tuesday to again voice their conflicting and emotional opinions on whether the future Legacy Playground should be built at Greeley Park.
Residents spoke for more than two hours before the Board of Aldermen began debating a proposal to conduct an independent study to find the best location for the fully accessible playground being organized by Leadership Greater Nashua and funded by donations.
For more than two years, Leadership Greater Nashua has been organizing the play structure and believes it should be housed within Greeley Park. The aldermanic Infrastructure Committee, however, is recommending that a third-party study be conducted to determine the best site for the playground within the city.
Eric Brand, organizer of the playground initiative, said he did not anticipate the $250,000 project would become a three-year process.
"We are listening. We are listening to what the community is telling us," said Brand. An independent study could take weeks to be accomplished, according to Brand, who said that would likely prevent construction from happening in 2014.
He urged aldermen to instead schedule a public hearing and vote on whether to allow Legacy Playground to be constructed at Greeley Park.
While some residents spoke in favor of Greeley Park as the future site of the play structure, others voiced opposition to Greeley Park and offered alternative locations within the city. Some favored the independent study while others pleaded with the board to move forward now without the third-party review.
Elizabeth Miller, who lives just north of Greeley Park on Beverly Drive, said that although it may be discouraging to prolong the process, a well-defined plan would be real progress.
Miller, whose husband suffers from Lyme disease and struggles with mobility issues, encouraged the board to support an independent study. She stressed that different disabilities, conditions and illnesses may manifest different needs, and everything should be studied — including accessible parking — so that the playground will be worthwhile and beneficial.
Deb Scheetz of Gateway Community Services offered a different viewpoint."Our kids cannot continue to wait," said Scheetz, asking that the board find a swift resolution to the proposal.Crissy Shaffer of Litchfield said she frequently visits Nashua with her children, including a child with significant disabilities such as autism and visual impairments.
"I am here to support moving forward with the playground at Greeley Park," said Shaffer, adding it would be very useful to the community and families with children who have disabilities.
While there is strong support for the playground, some individuals feel more review is warranted.
"It seems like we have reached a pretty good compromise, and that is to get professionals involved," said Daniel Richardson of Nashua. "... We want to make sure that it is right, not just a gift."
The Board of Aldermen had not yet voted on the matter at the time this report was written.