Letter: Don't fence us out

Don't fence us out

Editor of the Reformer:

I just learned that the Green Street School is planning to install (and is already moving forward with) a continuous chain link fence around the playground — blocking the public walkway from Beech Street. I am really very upset about this idea. I wonder if whoever thought of this fence thought at all about the impact it will have on the neighborhood.

This is the only safe walkway from my family's home on Beech Street, especially in the winter, to get anywhere on foot from our house. It is the same for the other people in the neighborhood.

That is our foot path to the library, the post office, and the rest of town. Having access to that playground gives my kids, and other kids in our neighborhood, a safe place to play and bike, that they can reach on foot, safely. I see many kids from the neighborhood, and from the Elliot Street neighborhoods, walking to and from the school on that walkway. I feel that building this fence would effectively cut our neighborhood off from using that space, and from having a safe footpath to town. To get to the library, or anywhere in town we would have to walk all the way down Elliot Terrace (narrow without a sidewalk), down Elliot Street, up School Street and then Green Street, or up Union hill — which has no side walk and down Western Avenue. Depending where you live in Brattleboro, safe walkways are not in abundance.

I think the purpose of the fence is to try to cut down on night time activity in the playground that results in vandalism, litter, etc. I don't know for sure, since this project has not been made public to our neighborhood. But if that is the case, I wonder why a security camera would not suffice?

I am very disappointed that a few negative incidents can shape the pathways in our community and change them to be less safe and direct for those on foot or bicycle, and less child friendly. The more I think about the reality of being fenced out of the playground, and of losing that footpath, the more trapped I feel in my own home, and in the street, with my kids.

I do not like that there is broken glass, a used condom or empty 40-ounce now and then, and the occasional rude graffiti in the Crowell Lot, or on the sidewalk in the playground. I also do not think building this fence is going to fix the issue. I think the impact for people both young and old of this neighborhood would be mostly bad. We need to think about the sources of these issues and go from there, rather than building more fences that keep out everyone, not just the perpetrators.

We need to think about the freedom our kids, and their families, and everyone should have to walk to and participate in community spaces, and to have access to safe places to play.

My neighbor just told me that he learned of this project from the guys doing the tree work preparing for the fence, no one else notified the community about this. He was also upset and urged me to talk with the school superintendent and members of the Select Board to express my concern and disappointment. If any of you share these feelings or have thoughts about this fence, please do the same.

Carly Reitsma, Brattleboro, Aug. 5


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