Residents want playground equipment returned to park

By Brandon Evans | Published Saturday, August 25, 2012

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CHILDREN NOT AT PLAY – Ashlyn Arnold, 5, and Britney Arnold, 9, have little to do at Delora Doughty Royal Park in Newark besides ride their bicycles in circles ever since the city removed the dilapidated playground equipment three years ago and never replaced it. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Something’s missing from Delora Doughty Royal Park in Newark.

“We want playground equipment here,” said Newark resident Nancy Dyer who lives near the park. “We have to go to the park in Rhome. When I moved here, there was a place for kids to play in the park. I thought that land was donated by a family to be a park. The kids need a place to play.”

The park, located across from the Newark Volunteer Fire Department at the corner of McCanne and Central Avenue, was donated to the city by the Royal family to be used exclusively as a city park. But the park has nothing for children to play on. Three years ago the city ordered the removal of the old playground equipment because it was dilapidated and posed a hazard. The equipment was never replaced, leaving only an empty lawn with a gazebo and grill.

“My cousin down the road has three kids,” Dyer said. “And she has to take her kids to a park in Haslet to play.”

Crystal Taylor lives in a home directly across from the park. She said there is no place for her three young daughters, Britney, Ashlyn and Addi, to play.

“It would give them something to do,” Taylor said. “There is nothing for kids to do in this town. Gas is too expensive for me to drive to other towns all the time.”

At a recent discussion of the Newark budget, Mayor Pro Tem Laura Pixler threw her support behind families like Taylor’s.

“I’m fighting for the park,” Pixler told fellow council members and the small crowd at last week’s meeting. We were $50,000 to the good last year. Next year it’s estimated we’ll be $63,000 to the good.

“I’m requested $13,000 to purchase playground equipment for the park.”

Pixler said she found a Mansfield company that could provide a swing set, teeter totter, slide, climbing wall and picnic tables for $7,600. That’s without going through a bidding process. She is asking for $13,000 to cover any extra design and installation costs.

Pixler started a “Heart for Park” fund that raised $1,100 for new equipment about three years ago.

“Time has drug on and we’ve paid no attention to the park,” Pixler added. “I’ve watched mothers and their children just go around and around in circles there. There is no place for them to go, especially those that live in apartments.

“The family donated that land for a park, and we should provide a place for kids to play there.”

Council member Bob Wells said he doesn’t think the city should spend any money on parks.

“I disagree with this completely for several reasons,” Wells said. “When you had ‘Heart for Park,’ only two gave money. That’s only two people out of a town of about 1,000 who care.

“We’ve got 18 roads to repair in this town. Parents can still take their kids to the park. We don’t want people just walking around and smoking doobers. But I think if people really want it they will pay for it.”

“Should we ask people to donate money to pay for roads?” Pixler countered.

Pixler did receive support from fellow council member Linda Anderson.

“We have a responsibility to provide for the quality of life for our citizens,” Anderson said. “We need a better quality of life in this town. We need to provide this for our citizens.”

“Quality of life is being able to drive down a road without damaging your rims on a pothole,” Wells said.

But Taylor only has to look down at her three girls to see there are more people than that who want a playground.

“This is something that would bring people in the community together,” Taylor added.

The council has made no decision yet on whether or not to allocate $13,000 for new playground equipment at Delora Doughty Royal Park. The council meets for their next budget workshop at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at City Hall, 209 Hudson St. They plan to adopt the budget and tax rate for the next fiscal year Thursday, Sept. 13.

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