A decades-old winter tradition in Somerton has come to an end.
Officials at the Cranaleith Spiritual Center announced late last month that the center could no longer welcome neighborhood children to go sledding on its snow-covered hills or ice skating on its frozen pond as they have done for almost 60 years.
In a Dec. 23 letter addressed to “Somerton Friends and Residents,” the center cited an ongoing redevelopment project as well as liability issues for its decision to restrict public access to the rustic, 10-acre campus at 13475 Proctor Road.
“This development has created areas on the property that are fragile, such as several bioswails we were required to install,” the letter stated. “These areas cannot be walked on as the piping and silt are still settling. In addition, we have been advised by our insurance company that we are liable for any incident on the property. We do not want any of our neighborhood children to be hurt in any way, or to be responsible for the children who come here.”
Kids have been flocking to the park-like setting for decades, long before Sister Mary Trainer, with support of her family and the Sisters of Mercy, established Cranaleith there in 1998. The property is Trainer’s childhood home. Her parents, Frank and Mary Trainer, donated their family estate to the not-for-profit foundation in 1996 prior to their deaths.
The Trainers began the tradition of allowing local children to frolic on the grounds.
“Sledding, skating and recreation on the Cranaleith property has a long history with the neighborhood children, and for almost 60 years we have welcomed the community with open arms,” the letter stated. “These traditions have led some people to think Cranaleith is public property. It is not. Unfortunately, while we would like to continue this tradition, it is no longer possible.”
The spiritual center will be posting signs around the property requesting that the public not trespass. Those who wander onto the grounds outside the context of an organized program will be asked to leave. Cranaleith is planning an open house for October when the public will be invited to tour the facilities and learn about the center’s work. More information about Cranaleith is available at www.cranaleith.org. ••