Macek Calls for Adult Fitness, Wellness Zones at Parks

Haverhill City Councilor William J. Macek.

Haverhill City Councilor William J. Macek.

Haverhill City Councilor William J. Macek.

A Haverhill city councilor found renewed support Tuesday night for a 2013 proposal to establish adult and senior fitness and wellness zones within several city parks.

During discussion Tuesday, councilors supported an effort by Councilor William J. Macek to create recreation zones next fiscal year, pending grants or other funding. The city’s Riverside Park could potentially become the first location, according to Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan, chairman of the council’s Natural Resources and Public Parks Committee. Macek’s original proposal has remained in committee since October, 2013. Macek said the city has spent “millions of dollars” on park playgrounds for children in the past decade and the city should also “turn an eye” to adult wellness zones. He noted what started in Europe and Asia has “come to this country now.”

“The equipment is very durable, it’s built to withstand four season climates and it’s also very affordable. It provides not just workout areas. Usually there are areas for conversation and recreation, just light-hearted stuff and, on a good day, someplace that somebody would want to be,” Macek said. “There are benches, there are tables if you want to play cards, if you want to play different games that they have there, they are all intertwined. And they’re designed so that walking is also part of it.”

City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan.

City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan.

Sullivan, also a member of the Open Space and Recreation Planning Committee, promised to give the proposal “the attention it deserves.” He said he was impressed with  an example he previously found in Florida.

“I saw it along the Atlantic Ocean in Fort Lauderdale, they have one of these parks and wellness zones and it was well-used. We’ve got some great parks, we’re spending money on those parks. This is a natural component to be featured in some of them, so it’s certainly going to get my attention,” Sullivan said. “I’m glad the mayor’s supportive and I hope he’s supportive of park rangers down the road too, because that’s coming at him next,”  he added.

In other council action, at Macek’s request, councilors postponed action for two weeks on the city’s $200,000 appropriation to fund downtown parking management services as well as maintenance and capital spending by the Public Works division. Macek said he is seeking “additional information on the request.” Seven councilors voted unanimously to postpone. Councilors Michael S. McGonagle and Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien were absent.

7 thoughts on “Macek Calls for Adult Fitness, Wellness Zones at Parks

  1. So, people will DRIVE to these areas to exercise ? They sure can;t walk right ? Haverhill will depend on grants to do this ? What happens when the grant money runs out ? Oh yeah. Raise the parking fees. Raise the food tax. Raise the tax classification. Are you folks NUTS ?? You have buildings falling apart. Some have mold growing and water leaks and you are worrying about this ? You have a serious issue WITH THE SCHOOLS and the kids learning. Wow ! Look at the shiny object over here. Pay no attention to what is going on over there.

    • Thanks, Jack! Happy to hear you are with me on this one.

      Forgot to include that the Federal Government IS ALSO BROKE. At all levels of government our politicians are now spending our grandchildren’s money and our great-grandchildren’s money and are looking for more areas to spend the money we don’t have; with all of the entitlement programs our esteemed politicians have instituted things can and will only get worse…..

      This Country can NEVER dig its way out unless a major attitude adjustment takes place at all levels of government. So there isn’t any money ANYWHERE and we had better learn to live frugally with what we have, maintain what we have, and forget about the “nice to have stuff.” HAVERHILL DOES NOT NEED AN ADULT EXERCISE PARK.

  2. With respect to Winnekenni Park, seems like this facility is already regularly and heavily used by walkers and runners who regularly use the many trails, residents who walk their dogs, people fishing, children using the playground, tennis courts for game enthusiasts, residents who picnic or just get together on the grounds, cross country skiers, bird watchers, events are held on the grounds, etc.

    The Riverside Stadium area is home to walkers, runners, people walking their animals, residents using the dog park, residents who just sit on the benches watching the Merrimack River, football games, and ditto for the other recreation areas in town.

    We also have our rail trails, the trails at Tattersall Farms as well as several other area trail sites, and nothing prevents anyone from just walking around town. What more do we need? If people can’t find enough to do with the existing areas available to them, then there is no hope for them, they probably won’t exercise anyway, and what more can we do??

    Sometimes it is best NOT to throw money at an issue just to spend money, just enjoy what we have.

  3. I wondered when this idea would surface again. Nothing ever dies, it just waits under the radar to be revived again and again until it passes and costs us more money.

    It is true that people in Europe and Asia have parks where they gather for exercise, but those people don’t have any other place where they can get together, and the exercises are just simple moving and stretching. They gather in China early in the morning on their wide sidewalks to practice Tai Chi, mostly because they have no other place to exercise; people also gather in the Panda Zoos for group exercise wherever there is space. AND, people in Asia and Europe walk, walk, walk; all over the place. They don’t have any equipment, just a nice wide sidewalk or a city park. They do the same thing in San Francisco where one sees gatherings of citizens out doing some form of exercise. In Boston, it is roller blading on Boston Common. No special equipment, and no money spent to do this. People do their thing, and participate in impromptu exercises.

    What happens when someone gets hurt because they attempt to use equipment they are unfit to use? Is the City going to have insurance to cover itself when it is sued? Elders are not the same as kids, and all adults/elders have to do is strap on a pair of sneakers and go for a walk. Will they do this? Most will not…. they want to sit in their living room and watch TV.

    Macek proposes that people with injuries will use these “elder parks.” People with injuries are NOT good candidates for exercise, especially when they have gone years without doing anything physical. They need someone to direct them in the proper usage of equipment so they won’t get hurt or further aggravate their physical problems.

    AND, if we have no money to clean our sidewalks and parking lots, where is the money going to come from to build and maintain these elder parks? From the City which is short of funds, or The Commonwealth of Massachusetts which is also broke, from City tax increases? Are we to raid some hidden account in order to build an exercise area for adults? Sounds nice, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE COST TO BUILD, CLEAN AND MAINTAIN THESE AREAS???? We have a problem with all of these issues today; why cause more problems

    —- AND who needs it? Don’t you think the citizens of Haverhill should be asked if anyone would use these areas before a lot of money is spent unnecessarily?

    • I totally agree. The City has so many big upcoming expenses that I can’t see where the money would come from. I think this is a little ridiculous and can see many problems with such an idea. The biggest one being maintenance and upkeep as well as liability. I hope the citizens of Haverhill are given the opportunity to voice their opinions on this before tax dollars are spent.

    • Well said Slipper ! I’m at a loss that there is sooo many things that need attention and they are worrying about this stuff ? Come on !! Macek must need something from the residents ! Hmmm, I wonder what it is ??

  4. “Park Rangers”? Tom…the city is BROKE!!! Where is the money going to come from for that? Let me guess….you want to create a new revenue source/user fee and start charging people to use the parks…is that what it’s coming to? (Even though taxpayers pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the parks right now anyway). Why not start charging people to park their cars at the park…and then ticket them to death when they park in the wrong area…that should help….just like it’s doing downtown.