October 22, 2021

Great day for families: City opens playgrounds

Cortland Standard file photo

Suggett Park in Cortland is shown cordoned off in this April 2020 file photo. City playgrounds are reopening after being shutdown due to COVID-19.

City playgrounds are open today after a vote by the Cortland Common Council at its meeting Tuesday.

“I know that the community, especially children and families, are anxious to get out on those playground surfaces,” said Youth Bureau Director John McNerny. “They’ve been cooped up way too long.”

City workers have been disinfecting equipment at the city’s playgrounds, he said. Signs will be posted with guidelines on the availability of interaction with the equipment.

While the playgrounds will be routinely disinfected, McNerny told Alderman John Bennett Jr (D-4th Ward) cleanings would not be daily, and bathrooms won’t be open until Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan, which he hopes to see by early July.

Mayor Brian Tobin said parents should be mindful of their children when at playgrounds to make sure they won’t be in a situation that could spread COVID-19.

“We have a low rate, currently, in Cortland County,” he said. “But, knock on wood, we’re going to keep that rate low. So we do need to adhere to social distancing guidelines.”

He suggested parents take their kids to parks when the parks might not be otherwise busy, such as early in the morning or later in the day.

Painting the streets: “Black Lives Matter”

Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin said Tuesday he would work with residents Tim Bennett and Melissa Kiser on plans to paint “Black Lives Matter” on one of the city’s streets. Bennett, owner of FunFlicks Outdoor Movies in Cortland, said he was inspired by other cities like Washington D.C. and Syracuse that have done the same.

Other aldermen suggested hanging banners over Main Street.

“Whether it’s on the road, whether it’s on the sidewalk, whether it’s on a mural, it’s just the act” of getting the message out there, Bennett said, adding that it can help start conversations on race.

Different questions, including who would paint it and on what time and on what streets were brought up before Melissa Kiser, an organizer with Cortland’s Black Lives Matter, said that while details must be worked out, city residents need to see that something small like painting words on the street was doable, otherwise there wouldn’t be much hope in making changes in the community.