Go Outside And Play...But Where?!?!

Where can our kids play these days?

We are often quick to say kids need to get out and play more (myself included) but sometimes that is harder than it appears.  Think back to the time when you were a child..go on...it's okay to day dream for a minute.  Okay, now that we all have a smile on our face, think about some of the places you used to play.  Now ask yourself how many of these places are still available to your children?  Not many, right?

This past weekend of Nemo dumping a mother-load of snow on us should have been met with the screams of children laughing and playing, but was it?  In a moment of trying to recapture my childhood or perhaps a bit of cabin fever, I was going to go tubing!  I quickly went to the shed to find some inflatable pool tubes, blew up a tire and was on my way.  Albeit, a bit winded but ready to go nonetheless. 

I made my way to the best hills I know in Kings Park which is at The Smithtown Landing Country Club.  I was hoping that it wasn't too crowded as these hills used to be a haven for all to enjoy once the snow dropped.  To my chagrin the hills were empty.  Not a footprint in the snow where the children used to run, play and laugh.  What has happened?  Have we closed this playground to all children perhaps due to a twisted ankle and a lawsuit from someone years ago?  Can we not supervise the hill and let the children enjoy?  My search would continue.

In hopes of finding a hill I settled for a small but popular spot for Kings Parkers.  The hill across from the Jewish Center off of 25A which is "the spot" for many once the driveway is passable.  I arrived eager to join the children and as I finished my first run we heard the sirens of the local police. 

This officer, perhaps watched one too many cop movies as he was on a mission to ruin everyone's day.  RoboCop armed with ticket book in hand was yelling at parents to vacate the hill or he would start writing.  This officer obviously had a unique childhood of being on the receiving end of many a wedgie as he was trying to "even the score".  But who was he protecting?  Who was he serving?  Just his own ego and to him I say shame on you.

Sure there are plenty of distractions for our children to stay inside and tweet, Facebook, upload, download, hash tag, etc... but why make it that much harder for our kids to simply be kids?  Let's be responsible and teach our kids that it is okay to play outside...the question just remains....where?

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Anthony February 12, 2013 at 01:07 PM
Great blog. Kings Park is in desperate need for more recreational space. We have this huge eyesore known as the Kings Park Psychiatric Center and we can't even use the space. Unless you want to illegally fly remote control helicopters and planes, that's okay.
Kristie M February 12, 2013 at 03:28 PM
There are still town and county parks you could have used, though parking wouldn't have been easy - Hoyt Farm, Sunshine Acres (I think, though it sounds like a nursing home) on Townline Rd., Wicks Rd, the newly redone park on Bellerose Ave in East Northport is beautiful...if you're Smithtown Landing, for example, can you afford a family suing you for a twisted ankle or worse, permanent head injury? That could bankrupt the owner. Please don't blame them, it's the people who let their kids play then sue when they get hurt. My neighbors with four kids growing up could have owned half of Commack and at least two grocery chains if she sued every time they got hurt someplace! Instead, her kids got in trouble for acting up (sometimes after the ER visit!).
Daniel Tacktill February 12, 2013 at 03:42 PM
That's a funny and interesting point about your neighbors kids. Boy things have changed and we do live in a litigious society! I do blame Smithtown Landing as this property should be allowed for town use since it's not private. The whole issue of lawsuits can be avoided by having a sign saying the town is not responsible for any injuries, or take it to the extreme and have the participants sign a waiver. Parents shouldn't have to travel to neighboring towns to find a hill for their kids to play on.
Frank Mercuri February 12, 2013 at 05:02 PM
Appparently the blog is not wholly true. Anthony you as many are not familiar with Kings Park especially its ordances. First off this big snow is not a place to be but to get dug out. Secondly the hills of Smithtown landing were used by many including my children to sled down the hill when possible. Third there is no Kings Park Pych center. It all a park with the exception of some portion still under the jurisiction of the State hospital go to http://kingsparknotebook.com/ .It is opened to the public all residents of the state. The Snow has to be removed before any use can be made. There is a hike and bike trall, a play ground a visitors center. Much has been curtailed do to the demolition of rotting buildings the public has been looking to remove for a number of years since its closing. So lets be fair. Find out what is available and going on. We have a number of playgrouds infrequently used. There is a change in how one entertains oneself especially with TV, Ipads, ipods texting and so on. Parents are working kids in school. I made it a point in my earlier years to make weekends a place to do something and that was going camping and the kids loved it. When i was a kid in the city we made our own fun. Street hockey, stickball, diamond ball, skully and much more. There is no improvising today and there is much to blame thanks to technology leaving little to the immagination. BTW The Hill off of 25A is Hospital property and yes is enforcable by state hospital police.
Daniel Tacktill February 12, 2013 at 05:26 PM
Frank the blog is entirely true. Not sure where you saw children sledding at Smithtown Landing or are getting your information but they must have had their helipacks on elevating above because the snow was untouched by any footprints. Your first point makes no sense, the snow is not a place to be but dug out? Okay, once the kids are dug out then are we allowed to play, and to my point...where? Anthony's point is dead on in that there is much wasted space. Again, you are wrong in the fact that the entire Psychiatric Center is parkland for all to enjoy. Only a small % is usable and safe for all to enjoy. The hospital closed since the late 90's and much is still a wasteland and an eyesore. We cannot blame technology we have to take responsibility.
Frank Mercuri February 12, 2013 at 06:44 PM
I said wholly. Smithtown Landing is a Country Club owned by the Town opened to all residents of Smithtown. The hill was used by my kids and maybe sneakedly. The point is that there are places in KP to go.This storm warned all residents to stay off roads. Anthony;s point is not accurate if you read my comment. There is no such thing as wasteland in KP other than the dumps. The park is not wasted land. It is preserved land. That is what parks are. If you read anything as to what is going on in the new park, after the demolition, there will be a phase where a master plan will take place. It is at that time where input will be asked on suggestions as to what to place there. Recreational acctivities have always been on plans made in the past. It takes patience. Your blog and anthony's comment paints a blerak picture rather than one of facts. the fact is the property is being cleaned up and the fact is there will be a master plan at the appropriaste time. i suggest you contact the NYState department of parks and recreation and ask them what is going on rather than make statements. As a resident of KP since 1965 and a civic activist rest assured I am on top of what is happening here. You can also contact your state senator John Flanagan and ask him ehat is going on. I am sure he will be glad to answer any questions you may have. One must understand that one just cannot go on hills at their convience just because it is there. There are rules.
Tom Gillen February 12, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Daniel - that is your opinion of the Nissequogue River State Park (NOT the Kings Park Psychiatric Center), which you are entitled to. The bulk of the space *is* parkland for all to enjoy. Personally I like the way the park looks with the old buildings and the history. I don't want to say too much - I rather enjoy having the entire place to myself when I go there. But I agree that there seems to be less easily accessible places for sleigh riding in general (for whatever reasons). Smithtown Landing was a favorite spot of mine
Anthony February 12, 2013 at 06:56 PM
Frank, I have lived in Kings Park for over 30 years and my family has been in Kings Park since the late 1950's. I am very familiar with Kings Park. First of all your statement that the snow has to removed is laughable. Also, what are we being fair about? The so called park land is a disgrace and 99.9% of Kings Parkers would agree with me (I say 99.9% because you are the only one who thinks the state is doing a wonderful job providing and maintaining our wonderful park). The fact that the state charges a fee to get in the Nissequogue River State Park is a joke. Have you been to other parks in NYS? They have so much more to offer. Also you said that, “We have a number of playgrounds infrequently used". I see the playgrounds in this town being used often. I take my nieces to the playgrounds all the time and there are always children at them when the weather is nice. If you’re talking about the Niss River Playground you already know why that’s not being used. They charge you $8 to drive in. I think Dan and everyone understands that the hill off of 25a is state property, but it has been used for sledding for years now. Dan you are right on with your blog.
Stevo February 12, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Daniel, I agree with your point that there aren't many places in KP for our kids to go sledding, but that hill accross from the Jewish Center is private property, and the owners do not want any lawsuits on their hands. I went past that hill on Saturday and there was a line of cars along 25A about 1/4 of a mile long. With the road narrowed by snow, this also caused a hazard for drivers and pedestrians walking along 25A. It is a shame though, that the Smithtown Landing can not be used, because it is perfect for sledding.
Daniel Tacktill February 12, 2013 at 07:25 PM
Steve-O your point is a fair one about the traffic on 25A, however, the cars were parked at the top of the hill as well and that was where the officer wanted to write tickets. It's just an abuse of power to kick kids off a hill when they are properly supervised. And Frank, if you are telling me to contact my State Senator or have patience I would like to advise you to open your eyes and take notice of what has and hasn't been going on. The state closed the Hospital in 1997, do the math. Are you pleased with the progress that has taken place in the last 15 years?!?! Your patience is a lot better than mine. And furthermore, as a civic activist it appears that your town has a lot of issues that need to be addressed (i.e. burned buildings on 25A, vacancy after vacancy of businesses, intolerable taxes, etc...) guess I should have patience with those issues as well, huh?
Anthony February 12, 2013 at 07:29 PM
You are taking my comment to literally. The psych center is not a wasteland just not used appropriately. Do you really believe that something is going to be done with the psych center? You are dillusional. It's going to be 10 years before they allocate any more money for the removal of the rest of the buildings. We have been waiting for a "master plan" for over 10 years. By patience I guess you mean another 10 years. You need to stop making statements. Stop acting like you know everything. I am well aware that I can contact senator Flanagan. I will here the same garbage you are spouting about a master plan. Get real!
We Heart Long Island February 12, 2013 at 08:28 PM
Hey Daniel, can I have your address so I can come by and use your property whenever I want?
new guy February 12, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Real simple....smithtown landing country club is owned by the town. The golf coarse is leased to mike hebron. Just like the buildings(except 2nd story smithtown Rec. office) are leased to lessings catering. You being a town resident does not permit you to just use the property. The tenant mike Hebron spends a lot of money maintaining the grass. Foot traffic with sleds can and will destroy the grass. The town does not spend money on the coarse. The town owns sweetbriar nature center. There's two rental homes on that property, it doesn't mean your entitled to go watch a football game at one of the houses. As kids we did sleigh ride at smithtown landing, unfortunately sue happy society has put a damper on things.
Frank Mercuri February 13, 2013 at 05:50 PM
Anthony your comments are what they say. I am not dillusional. You do not know what is going on. There was over 29 million set aside for the cleanup. Approx 3 mill went for an engineering study as to what buildings to demolish. 6,4 million was approved for the demolish of of phase 1facilities. The remainder will be for phase 2 and the master plan which follows phase 2. I do not know what you are reading . During the 10 years cited, the state had the property up for sale. Bids were to low and the developers who bid were not accepted by the public and the town of Smithtown as to what was suggested for developement. I am nor going to contimue with any further explanaion as all is in public documents for your review as to the money the bids the making of the park etc. have a good day.
Anthony February 13, 2013 at 06:33 PM
Frank I am so glad you are happy with the progress the state is making.


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