When we moved into our apartment from the Alexandra House shelter for battered women in 2008, we received a bonus package with the apartment – a public park. My son, Samuel was only fifteen months old. He was lucky because the park was just right there to play and burn off some of his toddler energy. One of the advocates at the shelter, Heidi, had said to me, “Bukola, you are going to love the apartment. There is a park right by it.” I did not understand what she meant by “There is a park right by it.” I couldn’t imagine having a public park that almost seemed like a private one because of its closeness to our apartment. Well, Heidi was right! Brisbin Park sits right there. There is no need to cross the roads or avoid vehicles to get into the park. It resides right there by our apartment.
Luckily, we moved in during the summer, so there was still a lot of time to enjoy the swings, slides, and other equipment that filled the park. Brisbin Park is more like a cozy little park for the neighborhood. In front of it is a big field where kids come to play baseball, soccer, or some other games for training. Behind Brisbin Park is a white apartment complex fenced with barbed wires. On the left hand side of it is an open space and trail that cuts across some single family homes; on the right hand side of Brisbin Park is a small space with a big tree followed by our apartment. As a result, I could watch my son play at the park when he became a little bit older from our living room. For the past five years, children from the surrounding neighborhood, comprising families from Anoka and Coon Rapids cities, mingle and enjoy playing together at Brisbin Park until recently. Aside from the play equipment, the tornado siren is a permanent resident on a pole that looks like the electricity pole at Brisbin Park. In addition, there are benches with back rest for visitors sitting on two sides, while there are two benches with no back rest with a table sandwiched between them on the other side of the park. They are all made from iron and painted blue. The basket like design was perfect for draining rain and melting snow.
This summer, the kids’ enjoyment of Brisbin Park was interrupted like a power outage! There was neither any announcement nor warning that the park was going to be renovated. All of a sudden, we came home one afternoon and saw that the park had been dug out and barricaded with the yellow caution “police tape.” Some construction workers wearing lemon green jacket were working on the park. “What!” My son, Sam exclaimed in surprise. “We will not be able to play at the paarrrrrrrrrrrk,” he said with his lips spread apart. Pretending as if I did not see what he saw, I asked, “Why?” He replied, pointing to the park, “Loooook, there are men working on the paaarrrrrrrk.” Meanwhile, it took two months to renovate the park but it felt like two years. My son was always checking to see if the park was done. As a matter of fact, he lost his patience at some point. He went to the park. Then Joe came. Joe is a friend and male authority figure for Sam. He had driven three hours from Trempleau, Wisconsin to spend the weekend with us. We were not home when he arrived, so he waited patiently in his car at the parking lot in front of our apartment. When Sam and I alighted from my car to greet him, he said to me, “What’s up with the park?” “Well, what does it look like they are doing to the park?” I responded. However, before he gave me an answer, I answered my own question with “they are fixing it.” “Oh!” He said and his jaw dropped, his knees bent, and his hands dangled in the air. “But it’s good,” I said, adding, “The kids are going to have a brand new park.” Then he turned to Sam to ask, “So, how does Sam feel, not playing at the park?” Sam answered with disappointment, “I don’t get to play with my friends because they are working on the park.” He looked sad, his face dropped as he walked to the front door with his hands in his sweat shirt pocket.
Apparently, Sam was not the only one itching to get his playground back. Many other kids from the neighborhood were also interested in playing again before the weather took away the permission. I saw some of them with their parents at the park during the reconstruction. As soon as the caution tape was taken down, kids trotted into the park little by little to play while the renovation was still taking place. I guess their actions tell the workers that they need to expedite action and vacate the kids’ territory. It was like a silent war. The workers seemed to understand the kids’ actions, so they worked as hard as they could to complete the renovation.
Meanwhile, Brisbin Park is one of the fifteen parks and recreation centers in Anoka City. It is classified as a neighborhood park in the Anoka City parks’ codes and it enjoys 2.7 acres of land. Even though, it does not have grills, it affords family members to still enjoy some picnic time at the park. There is a mobile toilet on the site, giving room for spending more time at the park. The reconstruction of the park gave it a brand new look. No equipment was replaced, no equipment was added, just a facelift.
At last! A concrete was built around the playground to form almost, but not exactly square, black dirt filled the
outer side of it, and a truck load of mulch was spread inside the play area. Brisbin Park received a brand new face. The blue park seats shone like brand new with the repaint. The metal part of the slide that held the stairs enjoyed its share of a new blue paint. The swing also took part in the new paint. Watching from afar, I saw a brand new park for the kids. A day after the workers finished their work at the park, a day care provider came with their kids to play early in the morning. Some kids were swinging, some sliding, and others just running around in the playground. Brisbin Park got a face lift.
PS: Thanks for reading. This is one of my assignments from my English Creative Non Fiction Writing Class.
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Bye for now, until next time.