The Redding Trail Playground
By Susan M. Halpern
Former Addison Councilmember (1992-1999)
Todd Meier has known for three-plus years about Addison’s contractual obligation to remove the playground equipment located along the Redding Trail, in between Midway Meadows and Les Lacs. For all his claims of transparency, the residents in the area seemed to have been blindsided by the news. The same goes for the councilmembers who were elected in 2016. No one told them about it.
And there is currently no solution. Meier has allowed more than three years to pass without leading the Council to ask staff to propose a plan to relocate or replace this playground area. I learned long ago that the Council sets priorities through the budget. This playground has clearly not been on Meier’s list of priorities. It’s wrong and insensitive to the needs of residents, particularly those with small children.
All of which is a problem for Meier, particularly since it’s election season. Meier’s chosen mayoral candidate was apparently involved in playground-gate. That means that the Meier spin machine will be shifting into high gear over this issue. And, if the past teaches us anything, we also know that Meier will never accept responsibility for this blunder, but will instead try to blame others. The buck never stops at his desk. Unless he can proclaim himself the winner.
From a legal standpoint, the issues are straightforward. Oncor owns the right-of-way under the power lines. In September 2013, Oncor apparently demanded that Addison remove the playground equipment, something it had a right to do. Sometime later, Addison negotiated a three-year reprieve that expires in March 2017, at which point Addison is contractually obligated to remove the equipment.
So, the only way the playground stays is if Oncor changes its mind.
As residents began to learn about the issue, a thread began on the Next Door website. Resident Terea Doty authored a petition seeking relocation of the playground equipment to another location in proximity to where it sits now. Enter Meier’s girlfriend, who attempted to create a contest of sorts between the Midway Meadows/Les Lacs residents and the folks living in Addison Circle. The suggestion was that Addison Circle’s need for a playground was more pressing and was being ignored. When the effort to pit one neighborhood against the other didn’t work, she posted a notice that the matter would be on the council’s upcoming agenda (before that agenda was available to the public, confirming Meier’s involvement), encouraging residents to attend to “save the playground.”
Here’s the thing: the suggestion that pressuring the council with a show of force might “save the playground” is simply false. The TRUTH is that unless Oncor changes its position, there is nothing the Council can do.
So why would Meier suggest otherwise? It’s simple: the best way to draw attention away from his own failure to address the issue is to blame the Council. And to do that, Meier has to (falsely) convince residents that the Council has the power to change the result, even though it doesn’t.
When I was on the Council, we tried our best to be sensitive to the concerns and needs of the community. We would long ago have determined that this playground equipment is important to nearby residents, and we would have tasked the staff with having a solution in place by March 2017. That’s the Addison Way, and we’ve seen far too little of it during the past six years.
A return to the Addison Way is at the top of my list for 2017. Addison’s residents deserve nothing less. In this instance, that means coming up with a plan to meet the needs of residents by replacing or relocating this playground in proximity to its current location. And, if other neighborhoods like Addison Circle have a need for playground equipment, then Addison should respond to those needs as well.
Addison’s residents deserve a return to the Addison Way.