Concerns over safety on city-built sledding hill in New Buffalo

NEW BUFFALO, Mich. – There are concerns in that the City of New Buffalo built a dangerous sledding at the new Oselka Park development. The project is being developed near New Buffalo High School.

“Even at 4-years-old she gets pretty close to those trees,” said Lisa Henrich. Monday, Henrich took her daughter to Oselka Park sledding for the first time. “I wasn’t really concerned because I didn’t think they’d build the snow hill so close to the trees,” she said. “Now I’m really concerned.”
From half-way up the hill Abbey’s tube slowed down past some of the trees on the side of the sledding hill. “I can imagine some of the teenagers just run right up there and don’t take any caution,” said Henrich.
“I actually saw a kid sled right into a tree,” said Susan Gotfried, a former member of the city’s park board. Gotfried also lives in the Oselka Park neighborhood. “If they miss the trees they’re sledding right into the street. It’s very dangerous.”
Gotfried said the hill was ill-constructed. She said wind blows snow off the front of the hill forcing children down the side of the hill. At the base of the hill are about a dozen trees and Bronson Street.
“We have been watching and so far we haven’t noticed any problems,” said Ryan Fellows, New Buffalo’s Assistant City Manager. Fellows said concerns about the hill’s proximity to trees and a street were brought to the city during the development phases of Oselka Park but no plans were made to change the layout.
Fellows said there is an inherent risk that goes along with any activity. “You could take a walk and trip on flat pavement and still there’s a risk in walking.” He said Oselka Park’s sledding hill is no different. Fellows said common sense and parenting should be used at the hill.
Fellows added that there are other sledding spots in the city where conditions are more dangerous. He has noticed sledding off the Whittaker Street Bridge. A wrong move could land someone in the Galien River.
In Oselka Park there is hope that plans change. “I think at this point they should put some barrier so the kids don’t hit those trees,” said Gotfried.
“I’m hoping they do something about it and I’m surprised they didn’t do something before they made the hill,” said Henrich.
There is no estimated completion date for Oselka Park. The cost has been approximately $1.2 million.

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