'Honor Connor': Search For A Safe, Recreational Space In North Haven Is Underway

Shaken by the 16-year-old's death, resident Deborah Mahon wants the town to create a safe place for kids to be outdoors.

Deborah Mahon says is "the most horrific thing that's happened in this town in a very long time." She was so shaken by it that she has come up with a way to pay homage to the boy who died when a car struck his bicycle on Aug. 29 and see that other North Haven teenagers have a safe place to ride their bikes and enjoy other recreational activities.

She is seeking 5,000 signatures for an online petition to get a designated area, trails or a lot .

"There are many, many vacant lots and fields in North Haven where this can be accomplished," said Mahon, whose family includes three sons.  She termed riding his bicycle the love of her 15-year-old son Jesse's life.  "I just started my event yesterday and have 500 signatures," she said last week, adding that, within that period, only two persons declined to sign.

"I think it would be a beautiful thing to dedicate the place to Connor Kusmit," she said.

On Friday, Mahon also messaged on Facebook, and Freda responded with a telephone call to her.  The two are now set to meet on Sept. 28 to discuss her concerns.

Mahon said the town used to have a skate park that she found safe because it was indoors.  She also said the town had an outdoor skakeboard park but she felt it lacked supervision and was poorly lit.  She said the outdoor park fell prey to vandalism and other disrespectful actions by an older crowd.  

"So the town closed it.  That was unfortunate because parents would take their teenagers there.  I used to take my sons there all the time. 

"There's nothing free for kids these days,"  she said, noting that many cannot pay the fees for sports. "The fact is there's nothing for teenagers to do in this town at all."

Freda confirmed that the skateboard park was closed because of drug use and other difficulties that had emerged at the site.  "But we're going to meet to see if we can find a solution for the future and continue the dialogue through an exchange of ideas and suggestions, and also ensure that none of the problems of the past will ever be repeated," he said early Friday evening.

"So, we're at the very beginning stages of trying to find a longer term solution.  I will keep an open mind to any ideas that she or other concerned citizens have."

Erin McNerny, now 23 and a student at , is one lifelong North Haven resident who will be delighted to sign Mahon's petition.

"There's nothing for young people to do in North Haven," McNerny said.  Like Mahon, she lamented the lack of activities for young people in public places. 

"I'm not trying to rattle city hall. I will help," Mahon said. "I just don't have the know-how.  How much is it going to cost?  How much will it take?   I don't want to cause any conflict."

She conceded that her goal of 5,000 signatures this month was "really high."  As of Tuesday, she had 829. Yet, she said she was trying to be positive.  "I always say the glass is half-full."

She thought back to the days when her husband's family owned a rollerskating rink called Roller Haven.  She said it was not very expensive and a popular place for young people to go.

"It's so sad," she said. "This is a really great town, a really nice town. The school system is great.  The selectmen are nice.  That's what spurred me on."

"I don't ever want to see this happen again," she said.

Bev September 12, 2012 at 06:00 PM
The town wouldhave to heavily supervise a place like this to avoid the problems that happened in the past, and the kids would still be biking there and back. It won't solve that problem. Maybe larger bike lanes would also help.
Deborah Mahon September 12, 2012 at 06:41 PM
I agree with a lot of your thoughts, Anna, but believe it or not, sidewalks are NOT supposed to be used for bikes! Can you believe that??? And there is a SURPLUS of kids on the streets, parking lots, invading businesses because they have no DESIGNATED place to ride....that is where I am going with this. The place needs to be safely accessible and not a major thruway, so all ideas are welcome.
Deborah Mahon September 12, 2012 at 06:46 PM
The PD is already constantly on call by town businesses and parking lots and streets because children who enjoy their bikes meet and congregate in dangerous areas, there is not a designated safety zone for them. If the location was out in the open, and the teenagers were given community service credit for keeping it clean and supervising it so that all posted rules were followed, that would work. I have spoken with Mark Mankin, Youth Center Director, who initiated the opening of a skate park in New Milford and this is what his town does. The kids will bike to this park, but that is why we need a SAFE location, off a busy street. Larger bike lanes would help, IF we had bike lanes. Most streets and roads in town don't even have them, and the ones that do are very, very narrow and outdated. We are paving our roads, but are we adding new bike lanes that are wide enough for our bikers to be safe???
Elissa Bass September 12, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Deborah: This is a great idea: "If the location was out in the open, and the teenagers were given community service credit for keeping it clean and supervising it so that all posted rules were followed, that would work."
Deborah Mahon September 12, 2012 at 11:49 PM
THANK YOU Elissa...I so agree and appreciate all your ideas.


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