Jess Machado

THIS GUEST OPINION PIECE BY: Jessica Machado is a freelance writer and former contributor to the Fall River Herald News. She is also a former radio host at WSAR and political blogger.



Perhaps in anticipation of tomorrow's anticipated snow storm, Somerset's online news publication, The Somerset Sentinel, posted a story yesterday about the Somerset Parks and Playground Commission's decision to break tradition and not turn the lights on at the popular sledding hill at Pierce Beach.

In the article, it states that Parks Director Barry Fontaine said the decision was to limit crowds at the park in the evening, although the park would be open to sledders during the day.

You read that correctly.

Because I thought that perhaps there were some details left out of this story that would help this decision make more sense, as a parent and resident, I reached out to Mr. Fontaine last night asking for clarification. Unfortunately, there was no hidden agenda in the decision. The committee felt that because of COVID-19, they made a decision that I feel has made the location less safe for sledders, to discourage them from sledding.

I wish I was kidding, but I am not.

When I asked Mr. Fontaine to help me understand that there would be dozens of children there during the daylight hours, and now perhaps more than before as the nighttime would now not be an option, and how during the evening there is no more of a scientific risk to catch COVID than during the day, I received no reasonable explanation. When I said that despite the hill not being illuminated, many people would still use the hill and perhaps get hurt, Mr. Fontaine told me that would not be the Town of Somerset's fault and that people should stay home.

I was flabbergasted.

I am not sure why this issue seemed to rub me the wrong way. Maybe it's because I'm a mom of four children who have missed out on so much this year and I don't want them to miss out on any more. It could be because I live a mile away from the hill and have taken my children there after storms for years. Or perhaps it's that I find the whole situation beyond ridiculous and I've had it with the preposterous restrictions that are not based in fact or science that directly affect our lives.

Families taking their children sledding is not a risk. This is insanity. The abuse of this pandemic to micromanage individuals has to stop. More than that, at some point, happiness needs to move to the forefront as a priority whenever it can. Families have done what they have been told to do since March and it is quite honestly just inhumane to restrict us to the point where we can't even go sledding down a hill.

And while this issue may be exclusive to Somerset, restrictions like these continue throughout our state, suffocating the liberties of Americans one closed sledding hill at a time.

Enough is enough.

Editor's Note: 'SouthCoast Voices' is a series of guest opinions from newsmakers and other people across the region, on relevant issues that directly impact the people of Greater New Bedford and the surrounding communities. The opinions are solely those of the author. If you are interested in contributing, please contact for more information. 

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