Dependable Erection

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Broken windows theory

Avondale Drive
Interesting doings at this house over the weekend. I've gotten conflicting reports from some of the immediate neighbors as to whether or not the tenants actually bailed on Friday. There was a large pile of appliances and junk in the backyard today on my to work, so i'm inclined to think they're gone. The story is that they kicked their dogs out into the street on their way out. Again, i'm trying to confirm this with Animal control who, according the paint crew at my place on Friday, had to send 4 officers to the scene to corral to the poor animals, who will probably end up being euthanized since they're completely lacking in socialization. If only any of the complaints about mistreatment had been taken seriously over the past couple of years, maybe they could have been rescued. And if only the landlord had stopped by to look at their property once or twice over the past five years to see how badly it was being trashed. I guess as long as that check comes in every month, it doesn't matter what damage is being done to the rest of the community.

Anyway, i'm working on a longer piece inspired by one of the commenters over at Gary's place on the unconscious assumption of privilege that's so prevalent among many classes in our culture, in this case the class of people who drive automobiles.

And rumor has it that the Herald-Sun has picked up on the story of the city not being able to keep cars out of Duke Park on the weekend, which apparently happened again yesterday.

If only i didn't have to work for a living.

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  • Neighbors say city neglecting Duke Park

    By Ray Gronberg : The Herald-Sun
    May 27, 2008

    DURHAM -- An incident two weeks ago has revived complaints about the way officials administer one of Durham's center-city parks.

    Complaints started rolling in on May 19, a couple of days after a group of people somehow bypassed the safety measures the city had installed at Duke Park to prevent vehicles from using the park's paved loop road.

    To get through, the visitors apparently uprooted paving blocks and a sign, and on the way in drove over some plants neighbors of the park had placed there a year ago.

    The discovery riled activists from the adjoining neighborhood. They believe the city government has neglected the park for more than a decade, and the damage-spawned uprising ran thick on neighborhood electronic message boards.

    Complaints centered on the Durham Police Department's slow response to reports about the illegal entry and the city's failure to install secure traffic barriers. Some residents called for getting video of license plate numbers of illegally parked vehicles and banding together to confront those who break the rules.

    But the neighborhood's real beef is that the city did little to follow through on what sounded to some residents like a promise to fund a major upgrade of the park following a 1996 bond issue.

    By May 20 it appeared solutions for the traffic barriers could be on the way. Parks and Recreation Director Rhonda Parker that day wrote neighborhood activists to say her staff wants additional parking bollards or a couple of boulders placed in key locations to prevent repeat vandalism.

    Parker also said she'd told Police Chief Jose Lopez and other members of the force that there's "a problem with some in the general public trashing and disrespecting" city parks.

    She added that she told them officials "need to be proactive versus reactive" if they want to get the situation under control now that Lopez has eliminated the Police Department's parks unit as part of a department-wide reorganization.

    The city originally blocked the loop because people were driving into it during the day and parking cars for long stretches of time while they did things such as selling drugs. That discouraged members of the law-abiding public from using the park, said Barry Ragin, a Duke Park resident and Durham political activist.

    Parker's message "indicates that the city is getting ready to address" the problem, Ragin said. He believes that "a couple of City Council people have taken it seriously" and added their voices behind the scenes to the prodding of Parker's office and City Manager Patrick Baker.

    Police also have supported the installation of more traffic barriers.

    "The large issue is this is a very popular park with many children playing there," District 2 patrol Sgt. Dale Gunter said in a e-mail to Parker. "The big playground is a powerful attractant to the children, and they are not looking out for vehicles, especially where there should be none."

    The playground Gunter referred to is itself a symbol of the neighbors' frustration with the city, as it's about the only major improvement at Duke Park that came out of the 1996 bond issue.

    There was once talk of a more grandiose set of renovations. But when city officials got around to the project earlier this decade, they only allotted $425,000 to a park that plans suggested could easily use $1.6 million worth of work.

    Nor did Duke Park benefit much from the parks that bond voters approved in 2005 -- supposedly because the neighborhood didn't have representation on the advisory panel that figured out before the referendum how officials should divide the new money, Ragin said.

    The park includes an old bathhouse that people such as Ragin would like to see upgraded to host events, and a lawn, for which the Parks and Recreation Department has only lately started to arrange formal programming.

    The department has scheduled a June 21 concert on the lawn by South Carolina blues musician Cool John Ferguson, Ragin said.

    "You can bet we're going to turn out a lot of people" for that show, as it's the kind of thing neighbors would like the city to do more often, he said.

    By Blogger Locomotive Breath, at 11:26 AM  

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