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Maintenance 2006

From the Newsletter April 2006


Last summer, while people were squishing clay with their feet beside the playground and forming it into lumps, helping the cob courtyard wall rise slowly out of the ground, there was lots of speculation about how winter would treat the structure. Now the first winter is over, and we know a bit more. The wall is still as solid as a mountain, but sections of the plaster have crumbled off in places. Nature got some help there, from people. On Hallowe’en night an angry young fellow not only smashed all the taps on the outdoor kitchen sinks, but also made many holes in the plaster all over the courtyard wall, using a big rock. (Read more >>) Someone else broke many of the glass bottles embedded in the cob. Some lunchtime students from St.Mary’s yanked half the shingles off the top. (The school principal made a strong case to his students after that, and St.Mary’s lunchtime stopped being as much of a hazard for the park.)

Nature – rain, snow, freeze/thaw – took over from there, and so did people who like to peel off bits of crumbling mosaic, and little kids who like to climb all over the wall, and parents who don’t stop them.

This spring, as soon as there’s no more risk of frost (in mid-May), Georgie Donais and Heidrun Gabel-Koepff and other park friends, with some help from the park staff, will begin repairs. Georgie says that they’ll try a different formula for the plaster, and they’ll whitewash the wall as well, to make it as bright as at the beginning. The shingles will be embedded more securely, or replaced by a better kind of protection.

But what’s more important: little signs will go up asking people not to climb the wall (some adults do it as well – the innate human impulse to climb is strong). The earth on the green roof will be replenished (it got trampled so badly by the climbers’ little feet that nothing green could grow there now). The part of the wall that makes it easy to get up there will be removed. Climbers on the wall do more damage than vandals, over time.

The taps on the outdoor kitchen will be replaced with new ones, with the young person who smashed them working alongside the City plumber. (The plumbers’ union has a “youth incentive” program that allows them to do mentoring.) Little fences will be put around the two new gardens near the cob courtyard, with more signs asking people not to step on the plants or yank the flowers. Two sugar maples will be planted in one of the gardens by park friend Mary Wigle, in memory of her dear husband Ziggy.

The cob courtyard is kind of a cross between a building and a plant, and it needs looking-after like a garden does. Many of the world’s traditional buildings are like that – how nice that the park has one for people to learn on.

Meantime, if anyone sees a person damaging the cob courtyard, please ask them to stop, and call either of these two numbers, day or night, 24/7: 416 533-0153 or 416 709-0573. Park staff and park friends will be there fast. We'd like to follow up with those people – they need to learn something too.


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