When Erin and Jeremy Goldberg of Vinson Road took their 10- and 12-year-olds to Danville’s Henry Jackson Park on March 30, they were disappointed by what they found.
Erin Goldberg said there was a hole in a slide, a broken merry-go-round, a beer can and trash, and a large hole in the pavilion, along with various other issues.
“Honestly, a lot of it didn’t look safe,” she said. “The longer we stayed, the more we were disappointed.”
The Goldbergs moved to Danville about a year ago to Erin’s grandparents’ former home. She said she had been to the park several times when visiting the area. But the park has declined each year, and she said it’s a shame the space isn’t being used to its potential.
“There’s too many children in this town to not maintain the parks,” she said. “It blows my mind that a town of this size can’t maintain the parks.”
Last week, members of the Danville-Boyle County Parks and Recreation board discussed a need to clean up Jackson Park. Director John Drake said residents near the park have emailed complaints about the poor condition of playground equipment.
Danville took over responsibility of maintaining city parks five years ago, and Drake said Parks and Recreation would be willing to help clean up the smaller community parks if the city would release the funds to do so.
“It seems like every year we go through this,” said parks board Chairwoman Heather Wheeler.
“I live there,” Wheeler said. “That should be the park I take my kids to, and I don’t.”
While visiting the park, Erin Goldberg said her family also saw what looked like suspicious behavior.
She said two cars pulled into the end of the parking lot and the occupants sat side by side without getting out.
“Police need to make more of a presence,” she said.
Police Chief Tony Gray said in those situations people need to alert police because they won’t know to frequent a place if there’s not any reports there.
“We’ve not had any calls or complaints on it,” Gray said, noting that two officers live in that neighborhood.
“My response to those situations is ‘Why wouldn’t you call the police and let them know there is suspicious activity?’” he said.
The parks board agreed something should be done soon about the park and plans to bring it up at a future City Commission meeting. The members decided there doesn’t necessarily need to be additions to the park, but just cleanup and removal of faulty items.
Erin Goldberg said she would support that action.
“Tear it down or do something with it,” she said.
Meanwhile, she said her family chooses Millennium Park as an alternative, but it would be nice to use the park that’s within walking distance of their home.
City Manager Ron Scott agrees there needs to be more attention to the small parks in Danville.
“It is an issue of concern,” he said. “I think we need to have greater focus on where to go forward with that.”
Scott said Millennium Park has overshadowed the small parks some, but there needs to be a “more comprehensive” plan to give attention to community parks.