Dwayne J.V. Rumfelt’s 6-year-old son broke both of his legs when his sled smashed into one of the hay bales at the bottom of the hill at Thompson Park about two weeks ago.
As it has for a number of years, the city put up hay bales to prevent sledders from hitting a stone fence at the bottom of the hill along Thompson Boulevard and Park Circle, but the bales did not protect Jorlan N.V. Rumfelt from getting hurt.
“He ran right into it,” Mr. Rumfelt said.
Suffering from two broken femurs, Jorlan, a first-grader at North Elementary School, will be laid up for weeks and cannot attend school. His father won’t know for how long, nor will he know what kind of surgery his son may need until he sees a surgeon in Syracuse. Also unknown is how much the medical bills will be.
His son remains in a lot of pain, Mr. Rumfelt said.
Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith said at Monday night’s City Council meeting that another child also ended up with a broken femur after slamming into one of the hay bales. Mr. Smith said he got a call from a doctor in the emergency room at Samaritan Medical Center on Sunday, letting him know about both accidents.
Mr. Smith did not have details about the second accident, which happened last week, other than the child was brought to the emergency room.
For years, Mr. Smith has been lobbying for the city to install mesh ski fencing to prevent such accidents. The city finally plans to do just that, City Manager Sharon A. Addison told council members Monday night.
The Parks and Recreation Department plans to spend $2,500 to $3,000 on the fencing, which is the same type used at Dry Hill Ski Area and other ski resorts, city officials said. The fencing will be placed in front of hay bales, and some of it will be put partially up the hill, Ms. Addison said.
To prevent sledding from the top of the hill, the city also recently put up snow fencing about halfway up the hill and across where sledders go down, but it was removed over the weekend, presumably by sledders, Ms. Addison said.
Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham warned sledders that removing that snow fence constitutes “vandalism,” and that they should not do it. He also said the city needs to solve the problem, since the council knows it exists and it could cause a liability risk.
Years ago, the city put up a sign warning people that they would be sledding at their own risk. But after the first good snowfall of the season, the sledders keep coming back — some saying it’s a rite of passage to participate in the activity at Thompson Park.
As the sledding season progresses, the hay bales become rock-solid and more dangerous, sledders have said.
In other action, council members:
n Heard that the mayor requested city staff to prepare for the pending closing of Mercy Care Center of Northern New York when Samaritan Medical Center moves out in the next few months. The city needs to know what kind of plan exists for security, to prevent vandalism and to stop people from getting inside once Samaritan vacates the Stone Street complex.
City officials have been worried about the fate of the massive complex after Samaritan is out of the picture.
So far, efforts to work with a contact at GE Capital, the lien holder, to speed up the process for the city to acquire the complex have come to naught.
The Stone Street buildings remain property of MGNH Inc., which causes further redevelopment problems, Mr. Graham said. Tax payments made by the hospital are current; the two-year tax certificate process would begin, at the earliest, in June, said City Comptroller James E. Mills.
n Took no action on a proposal to work with National Grid to install an electric vehicle charging station in the city that would be used by the public for free. Council members plan to discuss the program at next Monday night’s meeting, but it appears to have little support.