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A facility for all

Surely there is a way Steubenville-area residents with special needs can enjoy a recreation field that also serves those who do not have to cope with physical limits. The idea of a “miracle field” does not have to be an either-or proposition.

An organization called Urban Frontier has suggested establishing an area that sounds much like the Miracle Field in Wheeling. It includes a special surface and other accommodations that enable physically limited children and others to enjoy baseball, softball and other sports.

Urban Frontier Executive Director Thom Way has explained the field in Steubenville would cost about $1.6 million. In addition to it, new interactive playground equipment would be installed. Way adds that Urban Frontier would pay for the installation and upkeep, though the area would be owned by the city.

His proposal is for the “miracle field” to be established at Steubenville’s North End Park.

And there, as they say, is the rub. Some people don’t like the idea.

Royal Mayo, formerly president of the Steubenville NAACP, said “the notion that you would come into a community and renovate a field without the people who already live there being the primary beneficiaries of whatever improvement you make is insane.” He calls the idea “gentrification.”

That word was coined to describe situations in which housing in low-income neighborhoods is upgraded, attracting more affluent residents — but leaving those who once called the area home out.

“Gentrification is moving people out. We’re trying to invite them in,” Way reacted to Mayo’s criticism. He added that the new recreation area will be open to anyone.

There would be some changes. For example, girls’ softball teams that now use the park would have to find another field, because of the new facility’s surface.

Mayo’s concern is understandable. Those who use the park now should not be deprived of the recreation opportunities it provides.

But children whose physical conditions keep them from using conventional fields should not have to sit on the sidelines, either.

Surely there is a way. Way, Mayo and others should try.

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