Thursday, October 15, 2015

"We All Need a Playground "

Every kid needs a playground...playgrounds come in different flavors. You've got your usual ones with it's swing sets and slides, others have baseball fields and basketball courts and some are simply just a patch of woods.

As a kid I was bored on a traditional playground and the only thing interesting was when I'd take the flexible rubber seat of the swing and wrap it around my head, lean back until the chains were taught and press the seat tightly to my ears. When I did that it made almost the same sound as the scuba gear that Jacques Cousteau used in his underwater shows. I would listen to that sound and imagine I was one of the crew of the Calypso swimming alongside Cousteau looking for lost treasure or studying a distant coral reef. I'm sure if an adult would've noticed they'd wondered what the heck I was doing but a bored kid with a vivid imagination can have fun anywhere. Also, if you don't believe me about that sound give it a try next time you're at a playground... Just be sure to wipe it down with that antibacterial stuff because obviously there are some nasty germs floating around now that weren't here in the 70's.

Sports, I didn't like playing sports all that much...I hated losing (still do), I'm not a great team player and I was a chubby kid so the playground with the basketball courts weren't my idea of a barrel of fun. I did play a few seasons of football and in a youth church basketball league where I got ejected a couple of times for "profanity", it just wasn't my game.

The playground I enjoyed was a swamp located across the road from my house that we called " the ponds" and the entire length of Silver Creek. I could explore, build traps, hunt, fish and put my imagination to work. I noticed what birds were in and out of the area with the seasons, I'd then look them up in my Audubon bird book, a favorite was the Cedar Waxwing. I noticed how the fish I caught out of the tanic water at "the ponds" were almost black and differed from the brightly colored fish I caught in Silver creek. I noticed, observed and actually went home or to the library at school to research what I'd seen.

(*note*I do realize you can't hunt or trap on city property*)

Now days a kid doesn't have wild places to roam, everything is private and unless the kid is privileged enough to have parents or family members that own property then they're out of luck. I have no idea what I would've done if I didn't have land to roam on but I am thankful that I did. I didn't turn out perfect, I've had low points just like others but I do like who I am. I still have that same imagination and spirit that those woods I roamed help propagate.

That is why Burwell Creek Wetlands is so important to our community. In my opinion, if one kid gets a spark of imagination from seeing seasonal birds, frogs, odd plants or neat animals then it is worth saving. The truth's not gonna be one kid but many kids and adults that will benefit from this place being kept a park area. Can you imagine walking a board walk over a working beaver swamp, seeing great blue herons and their little cousins the green heron stalking minnows, wood ducks, mallards, maybe even a mink; if you are quiet, you may see a whitetail doe and her fawn ease out of the privet and cross the trail front of you...this isn't my overactive imagination at work, this is one hundred percent possible.

This place is owned by the taxpayers and citizens of Rome, it's sitting there right across the street from Starbucks for heaven's sake. It's ours and ALL of the incumbent Commisioners on the ballot don't give a rip, literally. All that has to happen for this to be reality is ...

if you are a Rome city resident

1. Vote the incumbents out, to do this only cast your votes for the newcomers. *All three of the newcomers are for nixing the sale of Burwell Creek Wetlands to Ledbetter Properties and keeping it as public green space. That's it!

2. Spread the word that this is an important city election...a lot of citizens aren't interested in a boardwalk over a swamp, others aren't gonna go walk on our public trail system BUT I guarantee you that most city residents could care less about a "luxury" apartment complex or another cookie cutter "strip" mall. This may seem like small beans but it's actually huge in the sense of keeping Rome on its progressive path to a more beautiful and family friendly city for future generations.

3. If you are not a resident but like our neat little town, come to the First Friday concerts, chili cook off, walk our trails, fish our rivers, simply love nature and I might add because of it's relevance in this situation... Dislike "the man".  Please, share anything you see about saving Burwell Creek Wetlands. Talk to your city resident friends about this situation, be vocal and help us to defeat this ill conceived plan. Help us to do the right thing.

Sometime this month, when you pull out of the drive thru at Starbucks with your delicious lattè or venti dark roast with 12 cubes of ice (my drink). Pull over at the " lane to nowhere" on the right side of Riverside Parkway at the bridge over that little Creek, yes, that's Burwell Creek, step up on the sidewalk and find you a clear view down into that beautiful beaver swamp. Try to conjure up that imagination from your childhood and envision the trails, a boardwalk leading to an outdoor classroom sitting on stilts. I bet you would've loved a field trip to a place like that when you were in the fourth grade...lets make it happen, we've only got a few weeks!

                                                  Peace, Jim Ware