More than Child’s Play
Support specialist maintains safety of town’s public spaces
The work Lindsay Rhew does for the Town of Hillsborough is no walk in the park.
Well, it kind of is. As senior administrative support specialist with the Public Space and Sustainability and the Public Works divisions, her primary duties are on the administrative side. But Rhew is also intrinsically involved with helping to maintain the safety of the town’s playgrounds, parks, cemeteries and the Riverwalk greenway.
“I’ll monitor playgrounds for sharp or protruding edges, trip hazards, wasp nests on play equipment, things like that,” said Rhew, who has been with the Town of Hillsborough since 2019. “I look for boards that are rotting or soft on the Riverwalk — things that are out of the ordinary that might be dangerous.”
Many of the playground safety concerns are handled by Safety and Risk Manager David “Tiny” Moore, who carries out regular audits of the equipment and the park environment. But Rhew just earned her Playground Safety Inspection Certification, which means her role as an advocate for maintaining public spaces is growing.
“I hope to be an extra set of trained eyes on the playground safety,” she said. “I’m out there often and try to keep aware of concerns.”
Rhew said the public’s involvement is crucial in keeping the town’s public spaces safe.
“I've gotten to know this group of people who walk Riverwalk every day, and I absolutely love them,” she said. “They keep a good eye out. Whenever I see them, it’s like, ‘OK, here’s a little list we've got. There's a picket missing down here and a board loose there.’ They're really great about that.”
If there were a message she could relay to folks in town, it would be to be specific about the location of any safety issue they come across at a public space and to even take a photo.
“If I get a call about a loose board on the Riverwalk between Cameron and Weaver streets, I might not be able to find that because the area is so large,” she said.
Rhew said it’s not uncommon for her to receive calls about spaces that are not the responsibility of the town. In those instances, she will point the caller to the proper contact or pass along the information herself. The key, regardless, is to encourage people to reach out when there is a safety concern.
“I like to let people know that if you have any concerns at all, I'm here Monday through Thursday. I'm really responsive, and I pride myself on the fact that if someone needs something they can easily reach me,” she said.
In her spare time, Rhew enjoys spending time hiking with her dog — yes, even on the Riverwalk — and hanging out with her nephews.
Engage Hillsborough: Safety
Public space, sustainability and public works as they relate to safety will be among the areas of town services and operations featured in a special event April 29 to listen to community members about safety concerns and to provide information on a range of safety-related topics. Thoughts, suggestions and concerns expressed at this community engagement meeting will be gathered to guide future town decisions.
Engage Hillsborough: Safety will be 2:30 to 5 p.m. at the Whitted Human Services Center, 300 W. Tryon St. Doors will open at 2:30 p.m. for informal conversation and interactive activities at staffed tables. The main program will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Town and Orange Rural Fire Department employees also will be available to chat or answer additional questions after the main program.
A free, supervised children’s art activity will be offered for children ages 4 to 12 in the same building. Children will have the opportunity to display their safety-related art project at the end of the program. A firetruck will be available for visits before and after the main program, and Orange Rural firefighters plan to bring some equipment with them as well.
Spanish interpretation services will be available, and meeting handouts will be in Spanish and English.
Engage Hillsborough is intended to provide an opportunity for more and different voices to engage with the town. A large attendance at this meeting will help ensure that future engagement meetings of this type are planned. If you cannot attend, please check with your neighbors to be sure your neighborhood will be represented. If you can attend, please bring neighbors and other Hillsborough friends with you!
Got a question about public space and sustainability or public works? Contact the senior administrative support specialist by the public space and sustainability email, by the public works email or by phone at 919-296-9600. Got a question about Engage Hillsborough? Contact Senior Communications Specialist Cheryl Sadgrove by email or by phone at 919-296-9433.