GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Many parents and grandparents won't let their little ones play at one park in East Gulfport. They say the equipment there is hazardous for children and even adults. Silver Ridge Park sits at the corner of Silver Lane and Live Oak Avenue. Neighbors say the park has been neglected for far too long.
"There's a rotten board," Gloria Grace said as she pointed to the wooden walkway.
"I could just dig the wood out," said a neighbor, Henry Marshall.
Imagine a child running along that old wooden walkway with splinters sticking up or climbing onto a rusty chain ladder with a broken anchor. If a child moves down the metal slide, watch out for the sharp, jagged edges at the bottom.
"It's rusty anyway," said Grace.
"And then they can rip their fingers," said Marshall.
Neighbors of Silver Ridge Park say it was once a popular place for families, but not anymore.
"This equipment is outdated. It is well overdue for replacing. It's been totally neglected. We're at a point now where we're just crying for help," said Marshall.
Grace said she'd like to see the entire playground torn down and replaced.
"I would not let my grandchildren play here, because it's a safety hazard. Because of all the imperfections that's going on here, I'd be afraid," she said. "This used to be used, but it's not used now, because it's so dilapidated."
Grace and some neighbors have started a petition drive to urge city leaders to renovate the park, including replacing the rusty picnic tables and grills. John Leonard said he has tried for years to get the city to fix up this neighborhood park.
"There's always an excuse. There's no money or go see this person or that person, and it gets passed down the line. Nothing's being done, and we got tired of it," said Leonard. "This needs to be out of here. It's a hazard. It's a liability."
Gulfport Councilman Ricky Dombrowski said he just learned of the neighbors' concerns about the park's condition in recent days.
"Within the week, they'll go ahead and start replacing and removing things that are dangerous. We don't have the funds to totally redo the park at the moment, but we'll definitely look at doing it in our budget process that's coming up in June and July and try to get some funding over there to try and improve that park," said Dombrowski.
The neighbors questioned why other city parks are getting more attention.
"I don't see why it's taken this long to redo this park when all the other parks are being replenished and fixed up. This is Mississippi City. This is the oldest town in Gulfport. We should have been the first to get something done," said Leonard.
"It makes me feel bad that they would let a city park get in this condition. I don't see how one could neglect it to this point," said Marshall.
"We want this to be a beautiful place for people to want to come and picnic and children playing. It's a place for children, and it is dear to my heart," said Grace.
The Friends of Silver Ridge Park say the group has collected more than 160 signatures on the petition. The group will present the petition to the Gulfport City Council on Tuesday.