Having three kids, the parks and recreation facilities in Town are a large part of our family’s life. We moved to Teaneck for the programs and the commitment to the open space it provided. But as we grow, our kids, our parks, and our greater community should be permitted to adapt and grow as well.
One very simple proposal I brought up as a member of the Parks, Playgrounds, and Recreation Advisory Board (PPRAB) was to add signage to our residential areas indicating locations of parks as well as mini-libraries for residents to share books.
Some residents have already taken this up themselves. On the right, you can see a mini-library set up with a bench on Warwick Ave. here in Teaneck.
We have wonderful facilities and many of them are underutilized throughout the Township. Let’s harness available technology to let people know is available and what the Township has to offer.
Another proposal is to adopt an online sign-up system for programs in the Rodda Center and for parks around the Township. As demand for use of our Votee Parks sportsplex and other areas increase, it becomes increasingly complicated to know what is available, when, and how to request use of facilities.
Let Children Play
As my children start to grow into their own independence, they have started to ask to walk to the park alone.
When is the right time to start allowing our kids to have that independence and who should be in charge of making those decisions?
Teaneck is hardly unique when it comes to this question and in some towns, merely allowing your children to walk to the park has led to arrests, the involvement of children’s services and worse.
I reached out to the Township Manager, the Chief of Police and the School Superintendent to determine how Teaneck deals with the age of kids and the parents’ ability to decide if they are old enough to venture out on their own. The responses can be found here:
School Superindent Response
Police Chief Response
As a member of the PPRAB, we have heard about issues that have surfaced over the years when students and children were accosted in parks and questions were raised as to whether they were permitted to be in the parks alone. I made a motion, which was unanimously put forward to council to consider a change to the code which would enable parents, to be the ones that get to determine the age in which their children were mature enough to play unsupervised.
The proper role of government here is to defer to parents.
If parents, in their role as custodians of their children, feel that their child is old enough to earn a degree of independence, we must defer to their decision. This doesn’t mean that police and other services cannot deal with legitimate and well-founded cases where danger or neglect exists. But it does mean that we should let borderline cases, in which judgment calls could be made, default to the will of parents.
Since the decision by the PPRAB to advise Council to create such an ordinance, Utah has created the first legislative code to enable this on a Statewide basis. You can read about the efforts on the LetGrow website.
We should foster our kids’ independence and the parents’ role in crafting it. Children live in our world and it’s a very safe one (statistically, every crime metric is down from when we were kids).
Let’s give our kids the same opportunity to play that we had growing up. We all deserve that.