Woodbrook is a stable, quiet, middle class neighborhood where you will find families that have lived here for over 20 years. A few of them have purchased two homes in the neighborhood. It is a neighborhood of caring individuals who are active in the greater community. It’s a place where, when faced with the worst December storm in recorded history, neighbors generously volunteered to help each other dig out.
For almost a year now, the Woodbrook Neighborhood has been under attack. Starting last May, residents first fought off a new road, then an eight-foot wide path connection to Arden Place. Now, the Carson Raymond Foundation wants to build two concrete block dugouts for Woodbrook Field that some have characterized as “bunkers”.
The dugouts have become a particularly sore point with residents. In April, vandals in Manchester, NH destroyed the tee ball dugouts there. In 2008, school officials in Greenville, ME considered tearing down their dugouts when beer cans, cigarette butts, graffiti and condoms were found after a night of partying by local vandals. While it’s true that Woodbrook School has offered to clean up the graffiti, and pick up the trash, these are problems that Woodbrook does not currently have.
One proposal offered by the school is to lock the dugouts. Locking the dugouts requires even more than the already overwhelming amount of chain link fencing. And, as every determined vandal knows, there are ways to get around locks. The only people who will really be stopped by locks are Woodbrook children looking to enjoy the field during after school hours.
“I want to know what we can do at this point to ensure that any dugouts put in at Woodbrook are the open wooden ones — NOT CINDERBLOCK,” wrote Woodbrook resident Mary Hobson in a comment on this blog. Mary’s comment reflects the frustrations of many Woodbrook residents. “We do not need to make Woodbrook into a major (Little) league status field if residents have concerns,” wrote Michael O’Grady. In referring to graffiti, J.O. Perkins wrote, “Cinderblock is inviting.” And to school official’s suggestion that neighbors should feel free to call the police to report crime on the field Audrey Kocher wrote, “Advice to call the cops avoids the issue. The issue is crime prevention.”
And as for the need to shade young tee ball players one anonymous visitor to this blog wrote, “All the talk of needing shade amuses me; try a track meet! They go on for hours and the kids have to find what little shade they can.” No kid I know would give up an afternoon of outdoor fun for lack of shade.
It’s perhaps no wonder then that in a recent straw poll of 49 Woodbrook residents, of those with a preference, 72% wanted a simpler, lighter design for the dugouts, or no dugouts at all.
You might conclude from all of this that Woodbrook residents just don’t like change. Not so. But well thought out change benefits everyone, not just for those asking for it.
So, Foundation, how about this? Forget the dugouts. Instead, create a setting that complements the beauty and serenity of this small neighborhood without distracting from it. Create a place where children can play ball during the day and where Woodbrook residents can enjoy a quiet evening. Lose the architect and hire a great landscaper. Plant beautiful trees that hide all that fencing without creating a place for vandals to hide. Install benches, instead of dugouts, so we can sit and admire the sunset or watch our kids enjoy the field. Work with us to create a place that you and Woodbrook residents can proudly share.