Parent voices concern over park safety to city council

Published 1:22 am Friday, February 22, 2019

At Tuesday night’s Middlesboro City Council meeting, parent Christina Gilley expressed her concerns over safety at East End Park to the members of the council.

Gilley, who has lived in Middlesboro for almost four years, expressed that she takes her children to the park regularly and is concerned for the need of a fence around the park.

“There is one urgent need that I talked to candidates about and I attend public meeting for…I’m here to ask for a fence, a playground fence around East End,” she said. “East End has a wonderful new slide, spring riders, and it’s going to have swings repaired soon, but it will still be difficult for my little kids to exercise there.”

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She explains that the closeness of the road as well as a steep drop that leads down to a creek are reasons for concern.

“They might run into the road,” she explained. “It happened a couple of weeks ago with my 6-year-old. I’m an older mom, and I’m just fast enough to catch one kid, not both of them. The road is not the only danger at East End. There’s also a steep drop and a creek.”

She told the council that her children are not the only children that need to see change there.

“I’ve talked to a grandma in town, and she cares for a baby and uses that park,” she told them. “I’ve talked to renters and they are not allowed to put a swing in front of their apartments. Those kids need a safe city playground more than my kids do.”

She explained that homeowners in town have yards and can make them safe for toddlers to run in if they have the money to afford the fences.

“A lot of parents of toddlers don’t have the money, they can’t provide a safe place for their kids to exercise,” she said. “Those kids that are children of renters, they need a place to exercise. It’s a need, it’s not a luxury.”

She said she is going to continue coming to the meetings and asking for a playground fence.

“I’d like to see set aside $3,000 to get that fence put in there, and I’d like us to do it this spring,” she said. “I’d like the police officers to lock it each night at 9 p.m. and open it each morning at dawn.”

Mayor Rick Nelson thanked her for coming to the meeting and expressing her concerns and she was acknowledged by the council as well.

Director of Middlesboro Main Street Emily Ayers also addressed the council and gave an update on the events the organization is working on including an open forum to be held Monday at Southeast Community College at 2 p.m.

A special called meeting was held Thursday night by the city council in regards to the proposed garbage rate changes for the city. The meeting was short with discussion for the council to move forward with looking at rate increases to assist in covering the outstanding bill for Middlesboro.

The next meeting of the Middlesboro City Council will be held on March 19 at 7 p.m. in the Council Chamber of City Hall. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.