Keep Oak Park Family-Friendly
Lisa Soble Siegmann
ur family lives just a few houses
from Victoria Park in Oak Park.
One of the reasons we bought
our house 10 years ago was because it was
close to two wonderful parks and play-
grounds for our children.
Over spring break, there were 20-30
children playing on the playground struc-
tures at Victoria Park. While kids ran
around and played, parents schmoozed
and relaxed. It was quite idyllic. The play-
ground has been around for years and has
seen better days, but it's still "our" park.
When I called the city of Oak Park to
ask if they would do their annual spring
cleanup, I also asked when the playground
would be fixed. I was told no repairs would
be made since the entire playground would
be taken down. Taken down! As of April 22
– Earth Day – the structures were disman-
tled; a very sad empty place remains.
As per the city of Oak Park, a study
done in the fall concluded that the
play structures at both Victoria Park
and Rothstein Park were noncompli-
ant with current playground standards.
Replacement parts are not available for the
necessary or needed repairs.
The structures need to be removed
quickly before children get hurt. With
winter out of the way and spring here, the
parks have now been dismantled.
In this tough economy, why focus on a
playground? Is it important? Yes. Definitely.
Lisa Soble Siegmann and her kids, Adi, 9, Maya, 8, and Amit, 4, at Victoria Park in
The original playground equipment is no
longer in proper condition so we have to
find a way to replace it despite a serious
budgetary shortfall. Success will depend
on a dedicated partnership effort between
the community and its government and I
am confident we will be successful:'
This is a great opportunity for us to
come together as a community. We will
need money and probably sweat. Let's
build a playground, or two — together. So
when you read more about what the city is
doing, think about your role in it.
What is your part in making our parks
— and our small part of the world — a
little bit better and brighter for all of us,
especially our next generation?
Every little bit counts and I hope that
we can count on you.
Lisa Soble Siegmann is an Oak Park resident.
Kids need a place to play. Kids need a
safe place to be. So here's where "we the
people" come in. The city doesn't have the
means in the current budget to handle
such an expenditure. The cost of a large
play structure will cost from $100,000 to
$250,000. We need to raise money through
our community, through the people,
Whether you are have children or
grandchildren or not, we need to help get
our playgrounds back up. It doesn't matter
if your kids use it or not; the playground
is for everyone. It's good for the city, which
means it's good for everyone who lives in
Oak Park and the surrounding suburbs.
The city of Oak Park is listening. City
council cares — especially our mayor,
Gerald Naftaly. He and his staff are look-
ing into matching government grants and
other means. City government does not
want to see grass growing in vacant lots
any more than we do.
According to the mayor, "Rothstein and
Victoria parks were created for the benefit
and enjoyment of all our residents, espe-
cially children and families. The parks
have served this purpose extremely well
for the more than 20 years since 1-696 was
opened. Their mission hasn't changed.
Oak Park Mayor Gerald Naftaly told
the JN: "We are fortunate to have
Lisa and her contacts who are work-
ing together to make this happen. I'm
confident we will accomplish our goal.
"We will have information on the
city Web site (www.oakpark-mi.com/)
and at the city manager's office
(13600 Oak Park Blvd., 248-691-
7410) to explain the process in detail
and tell people how they can make a
contribution to the city for this and itit
Happy (Family) Campers
t has been said that it takes a village
home over the summer, living with other
to raise a child. With all the studies
kids and counselors in cabins. Family
pointing to Jewish summer
camping is different.
camps as the best way to build
Imagine Jewish children
and enhance a young person's
spending the weekend with
Jewish identity, it can likewise
their parents, lodging overnight
be said that it takes a Jewish
in comfortable (but not luxuri-
camp to raise a Jewish child.
ous) guesthouses and spending
However, we know that it takes
the days playing games with
more than just a summer camp
the family, other children and
to raise Jewish children who are
counselors. There is set time for
instilled with Jewish values and
family zprogramming as well
proud of their Jewish heritage.
as concurrent activities for chil-
ndeed, it takes dedicated par-
dren and adults. From Jewish
ents and grandparents playing
programming — including
valuable roles in the child's life.
age-appropriate Shabbat servic-
All of this comes together at
es and Havdalah — to arts and
crafts projects, nature hikes and
When people hear the word "camp:' they a talent show — families are kept plenty
usually think of children being away from
busy. But there's also free time scheduled
April 29 2010
Krugel of Farmington Hills with children Darby, 7, and Cami, 5, at New
Year's Family Camp in January