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Lindenhurst Village residents push for cleanup of Weckerle Park

The playground at Lt. Weckerle Park in Lindenhurst

The playground at Lt. Weckerle Park in Lindenhurst is pictured Friday, May 15, 2015. Credit: Barry Sloan

It may have a playground, but Lt. Edward Weckerle Memorial Park in Lindenhurst Village is far from fun for a group of residents who are pushing to have the park cleaned up and made handicapped-accessible.

Broken beer bottles, discarded syringes, splintered benches and scattered trash are some of the problems residents said they have encountered while at the park with their children.

"There's constant vandalism, they spit, it's disgusting," Kristin Fusaro, 32, said of the teenagers who hang out at the park at night.

Fusaro has started a petition drive and village officials have promised to take action.

The park, often referred to as "Triangle Park," is a parcel of land with swings, a playground and benches at the intersection of four streets. The park's surface is largely sand, Fusaro said, making it difficult for the elderly and those with disabilities to visit.

Neighbor Natalie Negron, 37, has a son Lucas, 7, who uses a wheelchair. When he was smaller, Negron said, she could put him in the bucket seats of the swings. Now he is too big for the swings and with no other equipment for him to use, and with the difficulty of moving the wheelchair on the sand, they have stopped coming to the park.

"We used to come here all the time." Now, she said, "it's not functional for us."

Fusaro hopes her online petition drive will persuade the village to update and clean up the park. The petition has more than 600 signatures, including from a person in Norway with cousins in Lindenhurst.

"Whether they've lived here for 35 years or for a few months, they really love the community and they want to see it do well," she said. "But we can't do it without the village doing their share."

Mayor Thomas Brennan said the village put a new sign in the park last year and this spring did a cleanup.

"I won't say it's a forgotten park, because we don't forget it," Brennan said. "We clean it up every year. Unfortunately kids hang out there."

Brennan has asked the state for $75,000 in funding for village parks. If the village gets it, he said, most of the money would go toward Weckerle Park. The village would "revitalize the whole park," he said, removing the sand and adding rubber matting as well as new equipment.

However, it's not clear how much the village will be able to get done even if it is approved for the whole amount. Brennan said rubber matting at another village park -- albeit a much bigger one -- cost $50,000 alone.

Weckerle Park was dedicated in 1958 to the grandfather of current village trustee Maryann Weckerle's husband, Thomas. Edward Weckerle was a World War I veteran who also served as captain in the fire department and as a lieutenant in the village's now defunct police force. Some of Weckerle's relatives have signed the petition, Fusaro said.

Maryann Weckerle agreed the park "might have fallen a little bit through the cracks" and needs to be updated.

"It really has been a big part of many people's lives for many years and we perhaps were not quite aware of that," she said. "That the focus is coming back to it and it's being brought to our attention is definitely appreciated. We'll do our best to follow through."


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