Helping Hands at Hospital Heights

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana

Helping hands at Hospital Heights

Posted: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 6:00 am | Updated: 8:56 am, Tue Jun 27, 2017.

Mariah Allen has lived on the north side of New Castle for nearly 10 years. She had always thought her neighborhood park was in bad shape, but she didn’t realize how unsafe it was until neighbors started sharing their concerns with her.

Allen organized a community clean up event Saturday morning at the Hospital Heights “pocket” park to continue some of the work that the City of New Castle began when they recently removed damaged equipment.

Allen also enlisted the help of Henry County Community Corrections to get a crew of community service workers.

The park’s two slides were the main focus Saturday.

Volunteers came out to strip old, flaking paint off the slides and then repaint them. A team also worked to help extend the area of sand under the swingset.

“The city’s made a lot of progress,” said volunteer Dennis Ferree. “They removed a couple of swings that were dangerous.”

Ferree pointed out that city workers had also recently removed old equipment pipes sticking out of the ground.

There are about 30 children who live in the neighborhood. Brian Slavey, who’s lived in Hospital Heights for 46 years, said the park hasn’t been updated much since he was a kid.

It means a lot to Slavey that the city is helping make the park safer and volunteers are giving their time to focus on the safety of kids in the area.

“I’m tickled to death with it,” he said.

Allen seemed disappointed that there were tire tracks in the mud where someone had driven a dirt bike through areas the city had just repaired. A merry go-round that used to sit in the middle of the park had previously been destroyed by someone on an all-terrain vehicle.

Slavey said vandalism isn’t unique to Hospital Heights.

“It’s going to be a lot on the kids. ... They’re going to have to take care of it,” Slavey said. “If these kids don’t take care of this, it’s going to be right back to where it is.”

The long-time Heights resident hopes that more neighbors begin to pitch in and help keep the playground a pleasant space for their kids.

“This is really not a bad neighborhood,” Slavey said. “They’re good people out here.”

Slavey would like the city to put a fence around the north and east sides of the basketball court to help keep kids from running into traffic after stray balls. Allen hopes that the City of New Castle will put up a sign posting the park rules, too.