EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 6, 2013

Letter: Don't turn Winnekenni Park into Coney Island

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — To the editor:

No one should disagree with City Councilor Thomas Sullivan’s plan for proper maintenance at Winnekenni Park, the children’s playground, existing structures and the trimming of trees and shrubs around

Winnekenni Castle must provide a safe environment and permit the lighted castle to be viewed from outside the park, especially at nighttime.

However, I am unequivocally opposed to every other element which he plans for Winnekenni Park, the home of the Winnekenni Foundation and the cultural center of the entire Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire.

Mr. Sullivan sincerely believes that he is articulating improvements, and I believe that today’s “improvement” is tomorrow’s precedent, carrying us a step or two in the direction of a Coney Island style amusement park in one of the nicest residential areas of the city, which lies between Winnekenni Park and Mill Street.

Every generation from 1895 to the present has found personal refuge there and has assumed the responsibility of protecting the park from “developments” such as those which Mr. Sullivan proposes -- unnecessary, exploitative and altering both image and nature of the park.

Mr. Sullivan’s plan includes provisions for a dog park somewhere in the park. Such a facility without restriction has been in use informally at Winnekenni for many years, fostering intense consternation among the neighbors.

Assuming that “proper maintenance” will deal with that one, it is totally inappropriate that another dog park be established within Winnekenni Park. At best, dog parks should be a private enterprise, perhaps combined with other health services for animals. And why must we create a second entrance to Plug Pond from Winnekenni when one from Mill Street has served well for many years and continues to do so?

Plug Pond is very popular with fishermen. Some cast their lines from the shore, while others prefer their rowboat. A profusion of rowboats, paddle boats, swimmers and fishermen with different goals makes for an environment of little compatibility or comfort neither for the participants nor for the homeowners whose properties border the pond.

Some of the activities for which a physical structure of some sort is being proposed can be performed outdoors with hardly anything more than a couple of poles and a net supplied by the players. Any player or athlete requiring special accommodations or completely enclosed space can find it outside the park or at Cedardale or the YMCA. Must we entitle everyone to everything?

Viewing Mr. Sullivan’s plan from a different point of view, one might wonder why, at a time when the entire nation struggles to avoid financial catastrophe, when our good mayor, Mr. Fiorentini, struggles to extract an extra dime from every rock and stone, and every taxpayer struggles to hang on to his every penny, is it not rather cavalier and Marie Antoinettish that a plan such as this -- bound to cost thousands of dollars if not millions -- is even being contemplated ? Let’s not emulate Nero either.

Dean D. Bouzianis


Founder and first president of the Winnekenni Foundation