MANCHESTER — Shortly after Manchester schools conclude the first day of the 2014-15 academic year on Wednesday, city officials will tackle a related issue: whether to close a popular park during school hours.
The park in question — Bronstein Park — is located less than half a mile from Manchester High School Central and is used by various school clubs and organizations throughout the school day.
Students also are known to hang out in the park while on break from classes.
But the park’s benches and lawns are also being used by non-students. Sometimes, these non-students have used the park for non-school related activities. According to police reports, the park was the site of numerous overdoses from the synthetic marijuana product known as spice.
According to Chief of Parks Don Pinard, his maintenance staff has started to experience “aggressive behavior” from non-students when they’ve tried to clean the park, including maintaining and cutting the grass.
Two weeks ago, Mayor Ted Gatsas made public his desire to close the park from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. to all non-students (excluding parents and school employees and staff) on days when school was in session. This was to ensure the safety of students using the park during school hours.
Gatsas said he was hoping for a vote from Aldermanic Council on or by Sept. 2, which is the first day of school in the city.
The Union Leader previously reported that Pinard said the city may already have the power to close the park during school hours. Pinard said the city designated the park as a part of Central High in the late 1960s. This was done so the school could meet “green space” accreditation standards at the time.
Some city officials have said they are against restricting access to the park during school hours, including Alderman at large Joe Kelly Lavasseur who has said there should just be more policing in the park during school hours.
The Aldermanic Council is expected to discuss the matter Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Aldermanic Chambers.