Parents who just want to take their children to a nice playground shouldn't have to explain evidence of sexual liaisons and illegal drug use to the tots. Yet some taking their youngsters to the Heritage Port playground in Wheeling may have had to do just that.
One father told us a few days ago that after a recent trip to the playground with his children, he was so disgusted with conditions there he vowed never to return.
Wheeling City Council members were urged this week to do something about the playground. Charles Ballouz, who lives near it, said the facility is in "deplorable" condition.
Better maintenance, such as eliminating weeds at the playground and replacing slats missing from the wooden fence there, is needed, Ballouz said. Keeping the area secure at night, perhaps by installing a gate locked after dark, could help avoid the obscene and illegal activity he has observed, Ballouz added.
Installing a new gate would do no good. The fence surrounding the playground is low enough that intruders can step over it.
City Manager Robert Herron told our reporter city crews visit every park and playground at least once a week. Perhaps they should spend more time at the Heritage Port facility.
And stepped-up police patrols - with a few arrests - could make the playground less desirable for illegal activity.
At one point during the council meeting, Ballouz mentioned starting a petition drive to improve conditions at the playground. "I'll sign it," commented Mayor Andy McKenzie.
McKenzie can do better than that. He can order city personnel to give the playground the additional attention it needs.