Letter: Town doesn't need more playing fields at Ox Ridge; let kids be kids

To the Editor:

On the last page of the last article in the May/June issue of Darien/New Canaan/Rowayton Magazine, titled The Anxious Generation by Timothy Dumas, a senior at Darien High School is quoted as saying, “As kids, we were lucky because we were the last kids who didn’t grow up with Smart phones — we had flip phones — so we got to play outside still.” Janice Marzano, Director of the Depot adds, “kids are playing sports they don’t even like just to get into college.”

In a May 8, a New York TImes article by Jane Brody titled “How to Avoid Burnout in Youth Sports” she writes, “the concept of free play has since yielded to adult controlled games and hopes for glory among many of today’s parents.” According to the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, “The way youth sports is promoted in many parts of the country these days can be anything but good for the children who engage in them.”

The same student as quoted in the first paragraph laments, “There is literally no time to be a kid.”

Jump to the April edition of a magazine called The Sun, and over to the West Coast, to U.C. Santa Cruz campus where Dr. Michael Soule is professor emeritus of environmental studies. At 80 years old and a confessed naturalist and environmentalist all his life, he describes conservation biology now as a crisis discipline. We are in a time now, depending on where you live, when the change in our climate can mean severe drought, rising seas, species extinction, hurricanes and/or forest fires.

We certainly don’t want that for future generations. It seems that with these three articles appearing concurrently, an effort is finally underway to slow down the scheduled athletics for kids under 12 and to create outdoor space where they can come together and create games of imaginative play and experience. Exploring the ground beneath their feet, the flowers and trees next to them and the birds, bees and butterflies above.

I would request that better use of the fields at Ox Ridge and Holmes be looked into, that the number of fields and parking spaces proposed for High Field Farm be cut in half and the size of the wildflower meadow and number of trees be expanded. I am also asking for a handicapped and wheelchair accessible path winding through the meadow and that we consult with Tree Warden Cotta as to the types of trees to be planted. Tree Conservancy of Darien has already indicated they would help with providing some trees. Finally, to take the place of the athletic fields that we cut, at least 36 community gardens be built.

These children, our children and grandchildren, will be championing for a healthier, more sustainable and beautiful environment but only if they can experience one themselves.

Nina Miller