By Brian Messenger
---- — METHUEN — City Councilor Michael Condon wants fencing built at Greycourt Park to prevent sledders from using the popular hill behind City Hall.
Condon’s call for a fence follows two sledding accidents on consecutive days there late last month in which young women were seriously injured. Greycourt Park is a state park but is maintained by the city. Its steep slope makes it a destination for area sledders.
“It’s time to act on this before somebody gets killed,” said Condon.
Condon is also calling for a crosswalk on Pelham Street near Interstate 93, where a 70-year-old woman was hit by a car in mid December. He requested the fencing and crosswalk Jan. 2 in separate letters to city and state officials.
Greycourt Park, 37 Pleasant St., is home to the former Tenney Estate and Gatehouse and is accessible from both Pleasant Street and the Saint Basil Seminary on East Street.
Seriously injured were Elizabeth Patino, 22, of California, and Heather Cunningham, 22, of Georgia. Both women were visiting family in the area and collided with trees while sledding during separate incidents on Dec. 30 and Dec. 31.
Both women have since been released from the hospital.
Cunningham’s 11-year-old sister also suffered minor injuries.
Police have marked the steep hill at the park with caution tape and “no sledding’’ signs. They also performed extra patrols in the area following the accidents and have threatened to arrest anyone caught sledding there for trespassing.
Condon’s Greycourt Park letter was addressed to Mayor Stephen Zanni and forwarded to state Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen., Methuen Public Works Director Ray DiFiore and police Chief Joseph Solomon.
“This has been a problem for years now and we had to wait until somebody got seriously injured to look into resolving this problem,” wrote Condon. “I am suggesting that fencing be installed, beginning at the top of the hill going down at least half way to deter sledding in this area. This is a serious safety issue that needs to be addressed.”
In his Pelham Street letter, Condon requested the installation of a crosswalk in the vicinity of Mystic Street near I-93, Dunkin Donuts and McDonald’s. The letter was sent to Zanni, DiFiore and Solomon.
“Given the severity of incidents on Pelham Street and the elderly crossing over to these businesses it is absolutely necessary to have a crosswalk,” wrote Condon. “It is a public safety issue. Also please check to make sure there is sufficient lighting in the area.”
Manok Leach, 70, a resident of the Methuen Housing Authority at 22 Mystic St., was struck by a car Dec. 11 while crossing Pelham Street. She was listed in fair condition yesterday at Boston Medical Center, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
Leach suffered a shattered pelvis, brain bleeding and other internal injuries as a result of being hit by a 2002 Toyota Camry driven by John F.J. Sullivan, according to a prosecutor.
Sullivan, 46, of 23 Laurel Ave., a former editor at The Salem News and The Eagle-Tribune, has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident with personal injury but is not expected to face additional charges. He is due back in court Feb. 13.