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Frank Gray

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Disrepair definition different in Aboite

The other day a woman passed on a message she had received from a friend.

Apparently this person had paid a visit to Indian Trails Park out on Aboite Center Road and happened by the playground, called Three Rivers Junction Park when it was built 12 years ago.

The playground is similar to a place called Kids Crossing at Lawton Park, which was built by volunteers in 1994.

Both are made of timbers and wood, with lots of slides and swings and places where kids can pretend that they’re on a truck or a ship or whatever they want.

The Aboite park, though, was built in 2001 by volunteers who, according to news reports of the time, put in 3,000 shifts, so it was definitely a community effort and something the community wanted.

The message we had gotten, though, was that Indian Trails seemed to have fallen into disrepair. There had been some graffiti and damage.

That’s not good, I thought. I guess, unfortunately, some people trash places everywhere, so I decided to head out there and take a look.

I seldom get out to Aboite way. I don’t live in Aboite. It’s way too far to drive. But I was curious what I would discover.

The place is easy to find, right next to the YMCA. There’s a big sign marking the entrance, so it’s hard to miss.

The trail to the park was long and winding and lined with huge logs – not telephone pole-sized logs but really big, ancient looking trees.

I pulled into the parking lot and walked past the pavilion and the picnic tables to view the damage.

There weren’t many people there, about three parents or grandparents and a handful of kids swinging on swings. It was hot and muggy, OK weather for riding a bike but not the greatest weather for standing around watching your kids or grandchildren.

I went in search of the wreckage. There did seem to be a spot on one of the slides, a big green tube, where something had been erased, just a dull spot about the size of a newspaper page.

Maybe there had been some graffiti there once upon a time, I thought, but it was long gone now.

I wandered around the park a little more. It’s a big place with wood chips on the ground so kids don’t bang themselves up if they fall.

All in all, I thought, this seems like a pretty nice park. It wasn’t exactly falling down, at least not as far as I was concerned.

Then I came to a little slide. It was probably only three feet high and maybe four feet long, the type of slide designed for a 2-year-old. Near the bottom of the slide there was a broken section, like someone had stomped in the middle of the surface and knocked a little hole in it. The sharp edges of the break made the slide useless.

The damage, though, wasn’t what I’d call dramatic. It’s almost the type of damage that can be expected after 12 years, and it probably wouldn’t cost much more than $50 or $75 to replace molded piece.

But disrepair? Not in my book.

I wandered out of the playground and looked to the parking lot where I noticed my dented and slightly rusting car. I better move it, I thought, before someone complains.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at fgray@jg.net. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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