Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Youngsters Win Fight over Brunswick Park

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Youngsters Win Fight over Brunswick Park

Article excerpt

BRUNSWICK -- Children on the city's south end have won a

spirited game of politics in persuading the City Commission to

allow them to play in a park where games had been banned for the

past year.

Neighborhood children -- with 13-year-old middle school student

Stephen Belt and his mother, Annette, pleading their case -- had

gotten the signature of more than 100 children and adults and

asked the commissioners to reverse an earlier decision making

the park off limits for games.

A handful of children were in the audience, and one, Richard

Mixon, asked the commissioners to reopen the park.

Annette Belt said the city had privatized the park and

relegated children to playing in the streets while the park went

unused.

Some people in power are "putting a blade of grass over the

safety of our children," she said.

The commissioners unanimously voted Wednesday night to remove

the park's sign forbidding play.

As the sun set yesterday, 16 boys played a spirited game of

football in the little park.

Justin Mixon said he "felt good, very good being back in the

park playing."

Asked where he would be if not in the park, Matt Drum said, "At

home, sitting like dummies."

Nandre Pritchett added, "Or out in the street about to get hit

by a car."

And Sherron Collins said a child almost got hit playing in the

street last week, but that should not happen in the park. "We

got more running space. Everybody likes it," he said.

Frank Vande Linde, a member of the city's Park and Tree

Committee, lives next door to 90-by-90 Frederica Square, which

the city designated a passive park last year. Vande Linde, who

planted grass in the park and has mowed it and kept it clean for

nearly 30 years, had asked that the park remain closed to play.

Vande Linde did not attend Wednesday's meeting but another

neighbor, Rob Asbell, acted as a sort of mediator and said Vande

Linde was worn down from the debate and would abide by any

decision the commissioners made.

Since the debate over the park started in December, people have

called Vande Linde a racist and hater of children, which is

untrue, Asbell said. …

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