A tale of 2 Tot Lots

4/13/2017, 9:17 p.m.

A few months ago, I joined a friend at the Thomas Jefferson Tot Lot. My children and I had a great time enjoying this facility where everything was clean and in good repair and there were lots of toys to play with.

After that good experience, we walked to the 3rd Avenue Tot Lot in our neighborhood and found a very different scene. At 3rd Avenue, the gate in the chain-link fence was missing, so it was impossible to secure the space while my daughter was playing.

The sand beneath the swing set had eroded so that the swings are too high above the ground for a small child to climb on them. The paint on the play structure was peeling and the structure was rusted.

There are weeds growing through and over the fence, and the trash cans were full of garbage and rain water. Perhaps worst of all, the standing water and rotting trash had attracted swarms of mosquitoes and flies that soon drove us away.

I couldn’t help noticing that the Thomas Jefferson Tot Lot is in an affluent neighborhood of mostly white residents, while the 3rd Avenue Tot Lot is in an economically depressed community of mostly black residents.

Is this the reason our neighborhood playground is neglected and unsafe?

I hope the City of Richmond will take action before my children and the others who live near us internalize the clear message that they deserve less because of where they live and how they look. All the parks should get the same level of attention and upkeep!