Up on the rooftops

I expect that there aren’t too many people in Peabody who are unaware of damage that occurred to the façade of the American Legion building a couple of weeks ago. Much has been said about the fact that the landslide of bricks that rolled off the top edge happened on a quiet Saturday morning when there wasn’t any activity at that end of the business district. We certainly were lucky!

However, since then I have heard from several business owners in that area that there are youngsters who climb onto the roofs of those buildings with some frequency. We have had problems for several years with kids getting on top of the buildings on the west side of the street because of the metal fire escapes that offer access to the rooftops. This is the first time I have heard of children climbing onto the buildings on the east side.

If you are the parent, older sibling, or friend of a kid who climbs up there, the crumbled façade of the Legion building might be a potent teaching tool. It is entirely possible that other buildings also have weak areas of brick and mortar, or tin decoration, cornices, spires, and peaks. It might not take much to create enough pressure to make a wall give way — and it is a long way to the cement sidewalk below.

There is, of course, no reason for youngsters to be on the buildings in the first place, but when has that ever been a factor? Kids love adventure and being a bit daring. They love poking around where they have no business being. The tops of the downtown buildings should be strictly off limits, however. Most of them are 100 years old or older. There are bound to be weaknesses in many of them and there is no city ordinance that requires a building owner to get a safety inspection just to be sure a building is structurally sound.

So, maybe it is time again for some discussion around the dinner table. Maybe with the American Legion sign hanging from the building front, the orange barricade fencing draped across the sidewalk, and the rows of missing brick at the top of the building, there is an explicit message for our youngsters — DON’T DO IT!

Please have that conversation.

— SUSAN MARSHALL

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