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Sunday, September 21, 2014
Ground bees are the buzz of Westwood Park
Rossana Weitekamp
Rossana Weitekamp
Ground bees live in the warm sand beneath this barricaded Westwood Park play area.

Westwood Park, a favorite play area for Malverne children, is also apparently a hot spot for ground bees.

In the park’s playground area closest to Home and Foster Streets, ground bees have found nirvana: hot, sandy soil where they love to live and thrive. The playground sits on a bed of inviting white sand, naturally heated by the sun each day courtesy of Hurricane Sandy, which downed several trees that had shaded the area.

According to several websites addressing ground bees, these insects are not usually stingers unless stepped on or provoked. That’s obviously a problem when you make your home in the floor of a children’s playground.

Malverne Department of Public Works Superintendent Paul Jessup

reported that before anyone knew the area was home to ground bees, children were being stung while playing in the area.

The Village has been taking action. According to Jessup, exterminators have been hired to come in and treat the area but unfortunately the ground bees return and the problem persists. The play area has been barricaded off though there are still two other play areas for children that have not been chosen by the ground bees as a homestead.

According to Mayor McDonald, the obvious next step is to get rid of the sand and install more optimal flooring. One option that the Village has investigated includes “Pour in Place” padding, which would cost $24,000 to install on the one playground area; $74,000 to install on all three playground areas in Westwood Park. Jessup reported that they are working on getting better prices for padding.

McDonald also mentioned that the village will be receiving a $100,000 grant through the help of Senator Dean Skelos’ office which will go towards the beautification of Westwood Park. McDonald also expressed interest in determining if the grant could be increased to include money for the padding, which was not yet an issue when the village originally applied for the grant. It is unclear how the $100,000, which the village has not yet received, will be allocated.

In the meantime, the barricades around the playground will remain in place until a solution is reached. “It’s is the safest thing we can do right now,” said Jessup.

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