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Vandalism at ARISE at the Farm could force changes to public accessibility

CHITTENANGO, N.Y. (WSYR) — It’s a safe place where people of all abilities and ages can play equally.

“It’s open to the public. It’s something that we raised over $600,000 to build from the community, open to the community, because again, we’re about access, and as it’s gotten more popular, we’ve been running into trouble,” CEO of ARISE at the Farm, Tania Anderson, said.

Trouble in the form of vandalism.

“People leaving trash and dirty diapers, people leaving their kids to play on the playground unsupervised, people wandering over into the horse barn, doing things to feed the horses, which is not good for the horses and can be dangerous for the children. And then just over the weekend, what really became the tipping point for me was that there were some youths out there setting off fireworks,” Anderson explained.

Feeding the horses can create problems as they are on a regular diet, but it’s also not safe for the people going up to the fences with their hands outstretch to the horses.

As for the fireworks, the horses were terrified.

“They were running all over inside their fenced-in area. Luckily, none of the horses got hurt or broke a leg or broke through the fence and got into the street. Something that really could have escalated very quickly in a very bad direction,” Anderson said.

Security cameras and signs with playground rules haven’t deterred the vandals, and ARISE doesn’t have the resources to hire a security guard to watch the area.

“Well, we’re really in a tough spot because we want this farm to be open to the community. That’s why we built it, and it’s heavily used and heavily loved by the community,” Anderson said.

But now how open can they be? ARISE is thinking of putting up gates on the access roads leading into the playground.

“If someone’s really determined to do something they probably will, and I really just want to rely on the people who love the farm and love the playground and just everyone, do the right thing, don’t spoil it for everybody else,” Anderson added.

A place all about accessibility, now struggling with how accessible it can safely be.

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