Town Heals and Remembers

West Haven Could Nix Sandy Hook Playground Proposal

Friday, Apr 11, 2014  |  Updated 7:19 PM EDT
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It's been almost 16 months since the Sandy Hook tragedy. Several playgrounds have been built to honor the victims, but West Haven could be the first place to say no to one of these lasting memorials.

It's been almost 16 months since the Sandy Hook tragedy. Several playgrounds have been built to honor the victims, but West Haven could be the first place to say no to one of these lasting memorials.

Some members of the West Haven Land Trust appear to be balking at a plan to build a playground to honor one of the victims of Sandy Hook.

In the 16 months since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, 18 playgrounds have been constructed in communities struck hard by Superstorm Sandy in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. The playgrounds are named in honor of some of the 26 victims of the tragedy.

There’s a proposal to build one in West Haven in honor of Charlotte Bacon, whose parents have fond memories of taking family trips to the West Haven shoreline.

Some members of the land trust aren't sold on the idea. They feel allowing the playground to be built could open the door to future expansion.

West Haven Mayor Ed O'Brien favors building the playground and says he is in talks with members of the land trust.

“I feel it should be done. It's the perfect fit for it,” said O’Brien. “There has to be some kind of balance. I'm not in favor of large-scale development. I don't think this playground is large-scale development.”

The playground would be built on a 55-by-75-foot grassy area in the Savin Rock section of West Haven. It's not much in terms of development, but business owners say they need all the help they can get.

"If you go to any shorefront communities, towns up and down the coast, the ones that thrive nurture and enhance [their shorelines],” said Paul Gagliardi, Jr. “Beautify it so that everybody gets to enjoy it.”

Gagliardi is a co-owner of Jimmies of Savin Rock, a restaurant that sits near the potential site for the playground. He welcomes the playground, and the economic boost he feels could come from it.

Members of the land trust did not return requests for comment.

Mayor O’Brien says he’ll meet with the land trust over the weekend, ahead of a City Council Meeting Monday evening.

The council will only decide whether to accept the gift of the playground from the Sandy Ground Project. The council will not make a decision on where the playground should go.

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