Neighbors ‘devastated’ by loss of last park in South Allison Hill

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Harrisburg, PA - Neighbors in South Allison Hill in Harrisburg are protesting after their local park was razed by a new property owner.

The old Shimmel School park had been there for decades, and kids in the area say they're sad to see it go. Parents and neighbors are also upset.

"There are hundreds of kids here," says neighbor Michelle Blade. "So at night when the kids come home, they're just over on top of everything, it's getting more and more filthy. The garbage cans are getting tipped over."

The park has playground equipment that was removed last week, and a basketball court that is now closed off as private property. There is no other park in South Allison Hill.

"The neighborhood's changed and to see the park go, it's part of the neighborhood," says Keila Bay, who grew up with the park. She was in tears.

Groups of kids played on the busy streets of the neighborhood.

"We have normal kids just like everybody else," says Blade. "They play 4-square, they play Red Rover, they do normal things, and nowhere to do it here, except blighted broken-down blocks."

Neighbors posted signs across from the old park in protest. The lot was bought by PA Counseling Services for drug and alcohol rehab treatment. In response to the protest, they say the lot will actually have more green space than before.

"We're putting up 10 more trees along the fence line, so it will be more park like than it has been," says Ruthie Davis, president of PA Counseling Services.

And she says the green space will be open to the public.

"Absolutely, we're going to set up the fencing such that all of the grass will be available," she says.

But there will also be a large parking lot and no playground equipment.
The South Allison Hill Homeowners' Association says they know the kids need a place to go.

"South Allison Hill is in dire need of a kid-friendly area where kids can play," says Jeremy Domenico, vice president of the homeowners' association. "We're in the very early stages we have to see what it the most viable lot and most children-friendly."

In the meantime, kids will continue playing on the street.

"I hope they make another playground that's shiny and new," says 8-year-old Melany Melendez.