OLEAN – Just over two months after the unexpected closing of a playground and the removal of its play equipment in the city’s Homer Hill neighborhood, city officials are zeroing on a replacement site.
Two sites have emerged as top candidates after several meetings between residents and the City Council. One of the sites is on Homer Street across from the New York State Police barracks. The other is also on Homer, across the street from the original playground.
Both sites will undergo an environmental background check, including soil samples and analysis, according to Public Works Director Tom Windus, who said this should be accomplished before the next Common Council meeting on Sept. 3.
Maps of the city dating back to 1909 show the neighborhood has not been home to any industry, which would show up in soil samples, Windus said.
“The residents of the neighborhood seem to prefer the location closer to the original site,” Windus said. “They have been pretty good about the whole process, but are growing a bit weary of the length of time. We want to make sure we get the right location and are doing everything right so we don’t find out later that we chose a site that is not good for a children’s playground.
The original playground was closed after the property was sold to a developer. The site was owned by the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency and rented to the city for use as a playground.
Mayor Linda Witte and members of the Council have agreed to put aside $60,000 for the new neighborhood playground for Ward 7. The soil study at both sites is estimated to cost $6,700.
Once the new site is selected, work will begin on developing the playground, Windus said. Swings and fences from the previous playground may be reused to help offset the cost of new equipment, he added.
The new playground should be ready for use by next spring, Windus added.