Edmore pirate ship causing park problems

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 10:26 am on Saturday, July 13, 2013

A wooden pirate ship in Curtis Memorial Park is causing problems for the village of Edmore. Village officials recently decided to seal off the entrances to the ship. — Daily News/Elisabeth Waldon

EDMORE — A pirate ship in a village park is becoming known for legends as colorful as Davy Jones’ locker.

Edmore Police Chief Luke Sawyer made an attempt to parley with the Edmore Village Council last month. He proposed removing the pirate ship, which is one of several wooden play structures at Curtis Memorial Park.

Swabbing the deck isn’t going to solve the problem. Much of the problematic activity takes place below the deck in a large open area of the ship.

Sawyer went through a list of plunder he has found in the ship, including beer cans and beer bottles, cigarette butts, marijuana blunts, condoms, vulgar graffiti, urine and feces. Sawyer said several homeless people have told him they have slept in the ship at night. He has also been told the ship is often used as a location for people to engage in sexual activity.

A view of some of the graffitti written inside the pirate ship in Curtis Memorial Park. Some of the other graffiti inside the ship is too vulgar for newspaper print. — Daily News/Elisabeth Waldon

“While this piece of equipment has provided fun and enjoyment to many children, it has been used for many years for less than innocent fun and, in some cases, illegal activities,” Sawyer told the village council. “Simply, it is an enclosed structure, which creates a private space in what should be an open park. My own children love the park and the pirate ship, however, I will not let them play on it. After speaking to many residents about this, they feel the same way.”

Sawyer recommended the village sell the ship and replace it with an appropriate structure for children. After Sawyer’s report at the June 10 meeting, the council voted 5-2 to sell the pirate ship. Village President Chet Guild and Councilman Chuck Burr voted “no.”

However, at last Monday night’s meeting, council members changed their minds after Guild said the Curtis Foundation should have some say in the matter.

“They were graceful enough to buy it for us,” Guild said. “Everything that’s down there has come from the Curtis Foundation, so I think we ought to go to the Curtis Foundation about it, see what their feelings are, see if they want it out of there.

“I do believe if the DPW would take care of it like they used to take care of it, I don’t think we’d have the problem down there that we have,” Guild added.

Councilman Jerry Rasmussen said he would be more in favor of closing off the open area of the ship than getting rid of the ship altogether.

Curtis Memorial Park in Edmore is home to a variety of playground equipment besides the pirate ship, including these cute animals, as well as a skateboard ramp and a pavilion.

“If you’ve got kids smoking pot in there and having sex or whatever, it’s because they can’t do it at home,” Rasmussen observed. “I know that’s a stupid thing to say, but it’s true. I don’t mind the ship being there. I would rather have it enclosed. People have always told me how much they enjoy the park, from Lakeview and all over. It’s a nice compliment. Something like this is going to put a mark on our area.”

Sawyer said he did not support the council’s decision to first ask permission from the Curtis Foundation instead of just getting rid of the ship.

“I don’t think that we should be held hostage by the Curtis Foundation to say what they want to do with the pirate ship,” Sawyer said. “If they want it gone, then they can take it wherever they want to, but I don’t know if that’s their decision to decide what’s done with the ship.”

After more discussion, the council voted 6-1 to go to the Curtis Foundation before doing anything with the ship. Councilman Karen Deja voted “no.”

“I will be the one to go to the Curtis Foundation to seek information,” Guild announced to the council.

On Thursday morning, Sawyer told The Daily News he was informed by village officials that the access points to the ship are being closed off.

“From our standpoint, we are very happy that this step is being taken,” Sawyer said. “It was never about taking away the ship. It was about making our park a safer place.”

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