It has been a staple of the Needham community for more than two decades, but the wooden play structure at Greene's Field is finally being torn down after being deemed unsafe by the Park and Recreation Commission.
"These wood structures don't have a long life-span," said CPRP Director Patricia Carey. "It's tough to patch up and continue to keep it safe for children."
Among the major problems with the structure has been the splintering of the wood, along with the removal of broken pieces, which has weakened the integrity and strength of the play area.
The structure will be removed later this month.
While no decision has been made on what will be erected in its place, Carey, along with some other members of the Needham community, will be meeting later this month to try and finalize a decision.
Complicating the decision has been the prospect of a senior center being built on the field. A consultant, hired by the town, to determine the best location for the senior center, is reviewing Greene's Field, along with Ridge Hill and the Rosemary Pool area. The final decision on the center's location will be made sometime this year.
"In the short-term, we would like to put in smaller pieces of equipment in the park to replace the wooden structure that are easy to move," Carey said. "Larger pieces would be harder to move, so it's conducive for us to wait out the (senior center) decision and then make a long-term decision."
Regardless of the town's ruling on the senior center, Carey hopes to have a new play-area in place by the end of the summer.
Even though the Park and Recreation Commission is adamant that its decision to tear down the wooden structure is for safety reasons, the department has received some backlash from members of the community who feel the decision is in anticipation of the construction of the senior center.
"Some people don't understand playground safety," Carey said. "It's not coming down for the senior center; it's for the safety of the children. Building that structure was one of the best community efforts Needham has ever seen. People with kids or without kids saw that playground being built and they're sad to see it go. But Park and Rec. plans to put something in its place."
Even if Greene's Field is selected as the destination for the senior center, Carey, along with the Parks and Recreation Commission realize the importance of a play area at Greene's Field.
"We know there are other facilities in town where children can play, but Greene's Field is a favorite," Carey said. "Wherever you live in Needham, we want you to be within walking distance of a playground. And whatever the end result with the senior center, there's still plenty of room at Greene's Field to have a play-area."