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The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

Renovations possible for Whitney Park

Renovations+possible+for+Whitney+Park

Ludlow Massachusetts is a small town where residents often feel connected through its tight-knit community. Within this quaint town is a worn-down park where hometown adults are transported right back to their childhood.

Whitney Park, a controversial place where only the residents of Ludlow can attest to what lies behind those iron gates.

Through the years, the park has undergone multiple scandals, but none of which have actually resulted in a change to the park. Looking past the rusted pocket knives in the playground, and the used needles in the football field, are the old parks and recreation building, with chalk engraved on the brick walls and by far one of the scariest basements in town.

In order to address the issues, recent town meetings have created a new plan to renovate the park and address the needs of the community. Looking at its current state, it is clear that there are necessary renovations.

Based on the committee meeting on April 22nd, residents are seeking a revamped playground, permanent picnic tables, and on-site parking for families as well as park staff. The addition of these features is all in an effort to provide a safe environment for the kids of the community, whether it be the public or the programs run at the park.

To some, these expectations are unrealistic. When asked, After School and Summer Camp Co-director Victoria Melanson explains, “I don’t think the renovations will happen because the town cannot agree on what it is we actually should be renovating.” 

Additions such as a splash pad, basketball courts, and even pickleball courts were all brought up by the community, but less valued than other features. 

A conceptual site plan has been sketched out to imagine what the park would be like if the town was to follow through with such renovations. 

This  “new and improved” park maintains the idea of two playgrounds but relocates them to the front of the park. The simple change of location proves to be a major safety issue for campers at Whitney Park as well as any other children who decide to visit. Bella Martinez, a staff member at the After School Program as well as a Summer Camp Co-director, addresses her concerns about the safety of the children, “I feel it would be best if the playground equipment was further away from the road to avoid certain incidents.”

Beyond the playground is the current safety of the kids. Martinez goes on, “The buildings are outdated and unsafe.” The Parks and Recreation building at the center of the park has been standing since the park was established. Though impressive, it definitely could use some improvement. 

During summer camp, the only way of cooling down the campers is the small room in the back of the main building where the AC remains on. This little oasis is known as “The Calming Corner.” 

When being outside all day playing with friends, the children often seek for a break from the blistering heat. With pool time only being a small portion of the day, they must resort to asking a counselor to visit said Calming Corner.

 Either a counselor or a junior counselor must bring the child to the room, giving the child about ten minutes of AC. If the Calming Corner is occupied by another camper, they are expected to wait until the child’s time is up. 

With an average of 160 campers, giving children time to cool off when needed can prove to be a difficulty for the staff.

Continuing with the state of the clubhouse, allowing campers to use the bathroom is also a difficulty. There are two bathrooms inside the main building, one for girls, and one for boys. These run-down bathrooms attract long lines in the clubhouse, especially in the summer. 

When asked about the clubhouse, Parks and Rec Office Assistant Debbie Gates had this to say, “I would like to see a new clubhouse with bigger space inside and more bathrooms so the programs could grow.” 

With all of the renovations in mind, the town of Ludlow has given little thought to the people who run these programs all year around. It is agreed upon by the staff that the town should be discussing the upgrades with the people who work at the park, whether it’s counselors or a baseball coach, and are expected to maintain the safety of the children despite the condition they are in. 

Melanson adds, “I would like to see the people in charge of this renovation project allow the staff of the programs to be involved in any changes as this would not only take away their job when redoing the buildings but will change the way they will be doing their job when coming back after renovations are completed.” 

She continues, “There are so many little things that you wouldn’t think about unless you are physically with a large group of kids every day planning activities in the park.” 

The biggest question of this project is if these renovations will even occur.

An update for Whitney Park has been long overdue, and it has been discussed before. However, change has yet to be made for this well-loved park.

Debbie Gates has made her point clear, “I won’t believe it until I see a truck coming in here to dig stuff up.”

As stated before by Melanson, the town cannot agree on what needs to be done. This makes renovating the park incredibly difficult.

Without agreement through the town, renovations are unlikely. Who’s to say what will become of Whitney Park.

 

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About the Contributor
Ava Augusto
Ava Augusto, Staff Writer
Ava Augusto is a part of the Class of 2025 at Ludlow High School, marking her first year with The Cub, where she's excited to contribute to spreading school news. She's not only a student but also an active member of the school's varsity volleyball team. In the spring, she manages the boys' volleyball team, and in the winter, she plays for the Husky Volleyball club in Connecticut. Outside of school and sports, Ava enjoys spending quality time with her friends and family. Looking ahead, she has her sights set on attending a four-year university and pursuing a career in sports media. Her dedication to her academics and her love for sports promise a bright future ahead.

Comments (2)

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  • J

    JCJun 4, 2024 at 12:15 pm

    Growing up I and many others spent hours/days at the park, enjoying our summers off from school. The park was a community hang out to meet new friends at camp, the state pool and high school football games. The park has been neglected for to many years and needs this renovation. Look around at other cities and municipalities and see what they have done. Today many kids / adults don’t have the opportunity to get out and enjoy fresh air. The park has plenty of area for recreational sports and community get togethers. With the space available at the park, you could create walking paths exercise equipment, pickleball / tennis courts, a revitalized community center, play ground equipment and still have room for the athletic fields. This town was started by a mill owner who built the town with the thought of keeping the community together by building parks, libraries, and housing. Maybe we should take a lesson from him.

    Reply
  • M

    MeJun 3, 2024 at 12:34 pm

    OMG Ava, you killed this!

    Reply