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Opening gate isn't child's play for parents

The Baltimore Sun

THE PROBLEM -- The gate to the playground built by more than 2,000 volunteers at Stadium Place, next to the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg YMCA in Waverly, has been padlocked on occasion in the mornings, even though it is supposed to open daily at 8 a.m.

THE BACKSTORY -- The 14,000-square-foot playground at the site of the old Memorial Stadium on East 33rd Street cost about $400,000. The money was donated by private businesses and corporations. The YMCA is responsible for maintaining the playground.

But several times this year, visitors have reported finding the gate padlocked. On a warm March 11, the gate was still locked at 11 a.m. A sign, marred by a spray-painted profanity, says the opening time is 8 a.m.

As anxious children squirmed and peered through the fence, an adult walked to the YMCA office to find someone with a key. A man behind the desk said they'd get to it when they could. Twenty minutes later, the group was still waiting. A woman with two young girls had arrived and left before an employee finally arrived. By then, 10 families were waiting.

Sara I. Milstein, the chief marketing officer for the YMCA of Central Maryland, said Friday that problems with opening the gate would be looked into and the graffiti would be removed. "Obviously, it's not acceptable," she said.

Yesterday, Milstein sent an e-mail saying the playground serves more than 3,000 neighborhood children. "The staff of the Y is extremely conscientious about the importance to the playground to the community and makes every effort to keep it open during scheduled hours," the statement said. "On occasion, unforeseen circumstances have resulted in a delayed opening, but those occasions are rare."

In an interview, Milstein said the director of the YMCA at Stadium Place, Greg Phillips, usually opens the playground gate seven days a week. "He practically sleeps there, he is so devoted," she said.

WHO CAN FIX THIS -- Greg Phillips, director of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg YMCA at Stadium Place: 410-889-9622.


Last week's item on the broken clock and bells at the Curran Memorial Bell Tower in Govans brought a long response from the heads of the committee trying to raise money for repairs. The plan is to move the bells to a prayer garden at Stadium Place and refurbish the clock.

Money is being raised through the Baltimore Community Foundation, which now has nearly $74,000. Another $22,300 is still needed, but the committee says they have enough to move the carillon bells. The committee has met with the Verdin Co., a carillon fabricator, to help with the project and is close to signing a contract for the work, which they hope to complete this year.

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