Sign in East Palestine park ruffles more than a few feathers

EAST PALESTINE – Concerns about a sign in East Palestine City Park limiting teens access to the Rainbow Dreamland playground were brought up at council.

A member of the parks board, reportedly put up the sign, which reads “Teenagers only allowed if responsible for a child.” Councilman Alan Cohen said a concerned person had come recently to the parks board meeting claiming the city cannot discriminate against people.

However, council members discussed that not everyone gets to use the swimming pool either unless they pay the fee, and the city does have a right to restrict access to certain areas.

Village Manager Pete Monteleone said he has been at the tennis courts with his family and watched while parents with small children have had to leave the playground due to the actions of teens.

Dot Herbert, who works at the swimming pool, said there have been many times when parents have come to the ticket booth while she was working to complain about the actions of teens at the playground. One time Herbert said she went over and found teens throwing a knife and causing it to stick into the wood. She convinced them to give her the knife.

“I don’t see anything wrong with it being age appropriate,” said Mayor Margo Zuch, adding it does not make sense “If we have Rainbow Dreamland for the children and then the children can’t use it.”

Cohen pointed out there are over 150 acres of park, where teenagers are welcome to spend time, but Councilwoman Endia Wisser noted teens are looking for “areas with the nooks and crannies.”

For now, it was decided the sign seems to be preventing some of the prior problems at the playground. Council members discussed whether the parks board should have brought the sign idea to council before it was posted in the park.

Although he was invited to come to the council meeting to voice his concerns, the person who had come to the park board meeting was not in attendance.

In other items discussed at council:

– Councilman Don Elzer said with all the additional people walking downtown it may be time to look at limiting right turns on red on North Market Street, especially at the two main red lights at the intersections with Rebecca Street and Main Street.

– The recent event “An Evening on Market and Main” was complemented by Zuch, who pointed out despite the “extreme heat” that evening, there was a large crowd in attendance.