Somerton winter tradition ends

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 ••

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