The city’s Little Libraries are back in business.
The libraries — boxes from which local children are encouraged to take books that interest them and to leave others behind — were pulled from Depot Park and Meadow Street Playground last year and are destined for Justin Thomas Playground on Madison Street and the playground on River Street.
“Unfortunately, they were vandalized last year,” Recreation Superintendent Kim Peters said. “We took them down, redid them.”
Peters said both parks see good foot traffic from neighborhood children and that she expects the Little Libraries will be appreciated there.
Also in new homes are the five purple park benches commemorating Carly Ferro, an RHS student who, in 2012, was killed by an intoxicated driver. Benches have been in and out of Depot Park in recent years as successive administrations try to decide what to do about illegal activity there. Mayor David Allaire most recently removed them in September after a person spotted urinating in the bushes convinced the park had failed to find “some semblance of normalcy.”
Peters said two of the benches will go to White’s Park, one to Center Street Marketplace Park and one with each of the Little Libraries.
In addition to the benches, much of the plant life has been removed from the park, rendering it uninviting when not hosting the farmers market. Alderman Thomas DePoy, chairman of the Recreation Committee, said he felt like there ought to be something the city could do to make Depot Park work.
“It may be something we need to look at as a city as to how we’re going to renovate it or reinvigorate that area so it’s not such a hot spot of vagrant activity,” he said. “There’s no other way to put it — that’s what’s going on there. People are using it for illegal activity.”
DePoy said they also need to figure out how to push the illegal activity out of Depot Park without pushing it into the newly renovated Center Street Marketplace Park.
“Depot Park has a long history in the city and I think we need to find a way to make it nice again,” he said. “It’s got to be made into a place where people want to go to bring their kids. I don’t know how to do that right now. ... Maybe have it be a marketplace year-round ... something that’s going to bring some positive atmosphere there instead of the lingering negative atmosphere.”