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OpinionEditorial

Merrick playground plan slides into political muck

The Wynsum Avenue Park in Merrick is the

The Wynsum Avenue Park in Merrick is the source of contention among neighbhors after plans to build a playground were announced. It is seen here Oct. 7, 2017. Credit: Johnny Milano

The “not in my backyard” philosophy has reached new heights in Merrick, where residents are fighting the installation of equipment that might actually be found in backyards.

Earlier this month, the Hempstead Town Board voted 4-2 to table acceptance of a $75,000 grant from Nassau County to turn the undeveloped 2.9-acre Wynsum Avenue Park into a playground with swings and slides and other things kids enjoy. A town survey of residents found that about two-thirds supported the project, but some residents near the site contend that a playground brings noisy children, increased traffic, and possibly, congregating teens.

It appears that the playground plan is probably as much a victim of political timing as it is NIMBY concerns. Town Supervisor Anthony Santino sent the letter to county Legis. Steven Rhoads that led to the $75,000 county grant, and he supported it in a letter to the South Merrick Civic Association. A community group raised $25,000 for the project and state Sen. John Brooks pledged $100,000 more from the state.

But with local elections less than three weeks away, Santino now seems to fear energizing a neighborhood against him and his allies. The four board members who voted to halt the project are the Santino bloc. The two who voted to move ahead, Erin King Sweeney and Bruce Blakeman, are engaged in near-daily donnybrooks with the supervisor. Meanwhile, supporters of the playground worry that the grants could disappear.

Q. Since when have the happy cries of children at play become a nuisance?

A. When politicians look at the calendar.

Now is the time to do the right thing. — The editorial board

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