After being closed for more than a year due to restrictions put in place in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Frankford Community Park will reopen soon.
The question is, how soon?
Frankford’s Town Council recognized that the community is anxious to see the park opened, and is inviting the community to come help that happen. A “community work day” has been scheduled for Saturday, April 24, starting at 9 a.m., to get the park spruced up and ready to reopen.
“It’s the town’s park and we want it looking nice,” council member Pam Davis said. She said safety issues, such as making sure the shredded rubber “playground mulch” is spread to the right depth under the swings and other equipment, is also of concern.
“We want (children) to go out and have fun, but we also want them to be safe,” Davis said.
Robbie Murray of Envision Frankford suggested that the council commit to opening the park on May 1, and Frankford Public Library Director Bonnie Elliott said “the children of this town, they want something to do. They do not want to be stuck in their houses anymore.” Elliott also said the library would like to know when the park will open so employees can plan for the opening of its summer program, traditionally held in the park.
Elliott had previously asked the council for a commitment to open the park because she would like to hold some of the library’s summer programs there, since an outdoor space gives more flexibility for social distancing.
“It is time,” Elliott said, for the town to start returning to normal, adding that opening the park would be a step toward that.
Town Council President Greg Welch said the park can’t open until the town hires a new maintenance person. Welch said the council planned to interview candidates at the end of this week, and to make a decision on the hire soon after.
“Maybe we should shoot for Memorial Day weekend,” Elliott said.
Welch said there are some electrical issues to be taken care of and some plumbing issues in the park bathrooms that need to be addressed before the park opens.
Police Chief Laurence Corrigan told the council he is planning some programs of his own to help serve the Hispanic community in Frankford. He said a recent spate of thefts from vehicles had been “disproportionately affecting” Hispanic residents.
Corrigan said he wants to start a Spanish liaison program within the police department, and that the location of meetings has not yet been determined.
He said he is also planning a new flyer promoting the police department, written in Spanish and English. Corrigan told the council he has been spurred by interactions with Hispanic residents where he felt the residents were reticent to approach the department. Last month, he told the council about an interaction in which a young mother approached him tentatively, with a toddler, to ask for help getting food for her family. Her hesitance to approach him, he said, made him feel that “that is not the mark of what we’re all about, collectively.”
Corrigan said he continues to work with the library in a community outreach capacity, and has developed a relationship with area churches as well. He also said he wants to work toward having the police department “a little more actively reflect the community,” and hopes to eventually recruit more racially diverse members.
In other business, the council:
- Approved the adoption of an ordinance for the annexation of nearly four acres which is part of the property Steve and Michelle Benton are planning to turn into a wedding and event venue
- Set its first budget committee meeting for Wednesday, April 14 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall
- Voted unanimously to continue the Town’s contract with R & R Realty in Dover to find a potential buyer or renter for the warehouse the town no longer uses for water service equipment; and
- Voted to change the town employee’s health care provider to the state’s program, which, like its current health insurance is through Highmark, but will save the town about $9,500 a year.