Chappaqua Residents Question Gedney Park Sledding Safety

  • Comments (13)
A recent sledding injury spawned the question as to whether or not Gedney Park sledding needs more supervision.
A recent sledding injury spawned the question as to whether or not Gedney Park sledding needs more supervision. Photo Credit: Lindsay Corcoran

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – More snow goes hand in hand with more sledding. The problem is, more sledding often goes hand in hand with more injuries.


Does Gedney Park sledding need more supervision?

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Does Gedney Park sledding need more supervision?

  • Yes, the town needs to find a way to have large crowds monitored.

  • No, it is the job of parents to make sure their kids are safe.

  • Accidents will happen regardless of who is supervising.

  • Sledding in Gedney Park should be banned altogether.

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Such was the case Sunday when many New Castle residents headed to Gedney Park to enjoy the fresh snow delivered by Winter Storm Nemo over the weekend. Safety concerns were brought into focus when a young Chappaqua boy was injured after crashing his sled into a tree, New Castle Police said.

The incident  prompted a question on The Chappaqua Daily Voice Facebook page as to whether or not sledding at the park is a good idea or if it is too dangerous. More than 15 users debated the topic with more than 25 comments.

Chappaqua resident Brad Jacobs, who was at Gedney Park on Sunday, said much more precautions could be taken to avoid accidents.

“I had heard stories about it being dangerous and, in my view, what I had heard was very accurate,” Jacobs said on Facebook.

“I saw several collisions and near-collisions. There is absolutely no organized supervision there. It’s a shame because the hills are great but it’s mind-boggling that the town does not send police or other officials there to monitor it,” he said.

New Castle resident Ricky Janowitz disagreed, saying that is the jobs of parents.

“Why should the police be the ones supervising,” asked Janowitz. “The only people to blame are the parents who don’t control their own kids.”

While Janowitz’s point was widely supported, Aurora beauty shop owner and Chappaqua resident Dawn Greenberg pointed out where that logic falls short.

“I agree with Ricky, but bigger kids seem to be there without parents,” she said. “We all know the police are stretched thin, so it would have to be someone else.”

New Castle does provide the following sign in Gedney Park:

This Park is not supervised for Sledding        Sledding is dangerous                                        Helmets are strongly recommended

New Castle Superintendent of Recreation & Parks Robert Snyder said the town does not have any plans for further regulations at the moment.

“It is extremely unfortunate that someone was injured,” he said. “But without knowing how the accident happened, I cannot accurately or fairly respond to questions regarding the accident.”

Snyder pointed out that sledding brings the risk of injury just like other winter activities do.

“I have a daughter that I have taken sleigh riding countless times, so I am very sensitive to accidents that can happen while sledding,” he said. “Sleigh riding is not the safest form of winter activity, any more than skiing is.”

At the end of the Facebook conversation, Chappaqua resident Amy Goodman pointed out the moral of the story.

“There is a Chappaqua child who is hurt,” she said. “Hopefully they are ok and the parent is getting the support needed from town residents. Please, let’s not blame parents. After bringing up three kids here, accidents happen.”

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Comments (13)

100% agree with *just a mom* - maybe the Fire Dept could sent an email with some of these parent guidelines like making sure kids walk up the side, etc? My kids watched the boy get taken away by ambulance last weekend and were really freaked out.

This has nothing to do with sledding, but if I was a member of the town board, this would be the list of Gedney rules I would produce:

a) The trails are (thankfully) off leash trails for dogs. This doesn't mean that dogs should have free reign of them. If you meet other people on the trail, call your dog and either control them, or put a leash on them. Don't automatically presume that the approaching person and/or dog is comfortable with your dog(s). It's incredibly annoying walking the trails when badly behaved dogs are allowed to approach at will.

b) If your child is terrified of dogs and are going to walk the Gedney trails, teach them not to scream every single time they see a dog so that the owners can do a). Equally, teach your children not to rush at every dog, screaming, "Awwww!! Can I pet your doggy?!!"

c) Don't just let your dog jump from your car into the lot. There is a reason that dogs are supposed to be on leash in the public areas.

d) Yes, you're late for baseball/soccer practice. That doesn't mean you need to run us all down in the process. Please regard the speed limits.

e) Don't let your older kid hang out in the sandbox and the smaller slide. I know you think they are still very small and cute, but to a parent of a 2 year old, they're not.

f) Equally, don't complain if you put your toddler on the biggest slide and they get knocked over by bigger kids. That was your mistake, not an 8 year old's.

g) Sledding is dangerous. Follow the (pretty simple) rules of one at a time and everyone walks up the hill on the playground side. Don't stand at the bottom.

h) Enjoy!

Did I miss anything?!!

I think it's inordinately sad that parents can't sort this out themselves. It seems pretty simple. Stay in the park with your children, tell them the rules beforehand (don't walk through the middle of the hill, wait until it's clear, etc) and watch what's happening.)

At some point, someone is going to get hurt because sledding is a dangerous sport. As parents, we have to own that fact, and stop micromanaging. Do any of the parents getting upset about Gedney actually remember the sheer element of danger, wind in your hair, all round AWESOME ADVENTURE that is going down an icy hill at unknown speeds on a wooden/plastic contraption? Isn't that what used to get us so excited about snow in the first place?!!

I am all for safety in its place. But the idea of having the police (WHAT?!!) guarding the hills is ridiculous and, quite frankly, lazy in the extreme. As parents, we need to get out there, watch our own and get on with it.

As a last aside, stop demonizing the teenagers. They have just as much right (if not more, judging by the "danger") to be there than your 5 year old.

Appreciate the comment SideOut72, but very few people drive Dodges in Chappaqua. I hope the kid is okay, but this entire back and forth is driven by one comment on a rarely viewed facebook page. I do think we could use a Trader Joes in the old Dag space.

Part of the fun in sledding is speed. Speed can be dangerous (see Physics101). If the parents don't want the risk then keep the kids inside playing video games. The town of Chappaqua and its citizens have absolutely no obligation to bubble wrap trees or hay bale open land. The "common sense" should reside in the parents not the local government.

Note to the parents who are so deeply concerned: Sledding is kind of like skiing. If there are trees or rocks or even other citizens on the downhill the chances are that you may run into one of them. Look for a hill with none of the above. A virtual hill would be perfectly safe.

no one said anything about bubble wrapping trees. And certainly nothing about hay bailing open land... Learn to read my friend.... One or two hay bails in front of tree... Neat thing about hay is that when it falls apart it decomposes.
On another note my friend, when the kids are going down the hill which has no trees or rocks in its direct path of travel, don't you think their sleds might go off course. Its not like they are on a Luge course that has walls to keep them on track. We are talking about young kids here... I never said the Town did have an obligation, I simply made a suggestion that would make thing safer and more enjoyable. Yes speed can be dangerous, so can people who think like you. Show some consideration to others. Also Sledding is nothing like Skiing. Skiing you have a lot more control over where you can go and turn to avoid objects. Unless the sled you are using has some sort of steering device it will go where ever it wants to for the most part......

I totally agree with above. It is the parents job to watch their children. But with that, I know as a Parent we can not be at our children's side 24/7 to protect them from getting hurt. That unfortunately is the ugly part of life. This I do know is that this could have easily been avoided simply by the Town putting Hay bails or some sort of Protective Barrier (Orange Snow Fencing) which I know the Town D.P.W. has, around any hazards. I do believe they did that in the past. That is just plain common sense which some of you already know that certain individuals in your Town Administration lack, along with Ethics or Morales.

Life can be dangerous. Sledding can be dangerous. Parents and kids need to take responsibility. It is not the town responsibility or the police. Enough of this "nanny state" mentality where the government must control and take care of everyone and everything.
Sleds today are safer (no longer made with dangerous steel , sharp runners and pointed wood platforms - remember the Flexible Flyer. Let them have fun and teach them to be careful and safe.
Should a law suit follow- you can say goodbye to Gedney for sledding!

Please people, take control of your lives. Kids sled, kids get hurt. It's not Snowbird it's a town park. Sled at your own risk. And any moms who shouldn't be wearing leggings, you know who you are, please lay off the leggins.

The rest of my comment was that perhaps we could get a group of Chappaqua Dads to do it. The reality is that these big kids (and some parents) just aren't paying attention. It's moot for me -- I'm not letting my kids go back for a while.

I totally agree with the above comments. Parents seem to think that someone else should be responsible for their children. It's time for the parents to realize that the someone is them! Why have children if you're not willing to take responsibility for them and to teach them? This is not the job of the town.
Does anyone remember when Gedney Park had a ski tow? I suppose that was ended long ago because of insurance problems. I don't know.
It's not liike Gedney is the only place to sled around here. We certainly have enough hills without going to the park.
I can't imagine having the police supervise the sledding at Gedney. What else do these people want? Police at the school bus stops too?
It's unfortunate that there was an accident and I hope the child is ok. But, this could have happened in his own back yard too.

Sledding is inherently dangerous - you can be the only person on the hill and still hit a tree. You can be very experienced or a novice and just not react the right way one time and get in trouble. That is life - it does not have to be someone else's fault.

That said, I have seen crazy things around here. I don't know why people don't use their common sense and pack it up when things get busy or if they arrive and it is already full.

Why do people put their little kids on sleds all the way from the top when it is icy and the hill is full of teens (Just the size differential is risky - never mind the dare devil antics)

I also don't know why people don't take personal responsibility for things when they happen. Many people want to blame someone else, force someone else to take care of them - in this case have the town supervise the hills. This way they don't have to make the decision themselves and can rest in the comfort of having someone to blame or in this town ...someone to sue. Insane!

I also don't know why people don't look out for others. If you see little kids on the hill go somewhere else or tone it down. If you see big kids on the hill, go somewhere else or ask them to tone it down for a few minutes while your kid gets a chance to slide. People seem to just do what they want when they want instead of working together so everyone has a good time.

I have also seen parents walking up the middle of the hill at Gedney with their little kids - crazy! Do they just not care about anyone else? do they not recognize danger ? The people at the top either cannot go (if they see them and have a conscience) or if they have already started down they have limited ability to steer and are scared they are going to hit someone. People also stand near the bottom, backs to the hill chatting away. If they get hit they attack the sledder who was probably worried and unable to turn to miss them. People put themselves in danger recklessly all the time - is the town to blame for that ? I don't think so.

Do people teach their kids to bail if the sled is too fast or heading off piste ? Even if they do, in the heat of the moment, all bets are off and accidents can happen. It is life.

People willingly put themselves in danger when they sled. The town should stay out of it. It is very nice that they provide some bales of straw. If people are worried about the trees they should contribute and donate some straw too.

There will be accidents - they can be minimized by everyone taking responsibility not by passing the buck.

Great post! Well said.

I was on the hill that same day, and I was the only parent telling kids to get out of the way while their parents chatted while drinking coffee. With parents that are oblivious come kids that are oblivious. Everyone should teach their kids the same 5 rules as there are for dodgeball: dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge.