The barricades to Vegas
This has been a problem that has been building for some time. For anyone familiar with Keney Park, there is an area adjacent to the Keney Park Cricket fields that has earned the name "the Casino" or also called "Vegas". It has become an area that is a chronic problem for DPW with trash and litter and damage to the Park. It has become a real problem with HPD for the drinking, gambling, illegal drug use and most recently a couple of stabbings, most likely over drug turf.
No one can say it isn't a problem, that is a clear and evident fact.
The problem for me is the response to the problem.
Rather than strict enforcement to clean up the behavior, barricades have been put in place to restrict any access to a large area of Keney Park. This includes the road that winds through the area south of the Keney park Golf Course from the Windsor Avenue Gate to Tower Avenue.. This area includes a large portion of the Park including the cricket fields, the basketball courts and picnic areas.
These are now off limits to anyone wishing to drive through the Park. The recently renovated Cricket Fields are now not accessible to Seniors or any handicapped individuals that aren't able to walk through the cow pasture like area to get to the fields.It also would be very difficult for EMS to get to the Cricket Fields if anyone was injured during a match.
It just seems inappropriate to restrict access to the park to everyone because of the behavior of a few. This past Saturday afternoon I went to the park after receiving numerous phone complaints. It was clear what the so called solution is going to do. It is not going to resolve the problem, it is just pushing it to another area. The "T" intersection from the Windsor Avenue entrance to get to the Golf Course was loaded with maybe 30 or 40 cars, the same number of vehicles that would normally be parked at "the Casino". The problem didn't go away, it just moved.
Vehicles lined up Saturday afternoon outside the barriers to Vegas
Police sources confirmed that an arrest was apparently made Sunday morning by the Jersey barriers for an individual dealing marijuana. A jersey barrier apparently isn't the best deterrent to marijuana dealing, but just maybe a few more arrests and some Community Court Service hours will change the behavior.
Penalizing families and residents that use the park properly is not the solution. If Jersey Barriers are the solution, maybe we should try dropping off a few on Garden Street or Barbour Street to alleviate the crime there. Clearly that won't work, but enforcement does.
I spoke to several people in the park Saturday from the West Indian Community, including probably one of the biggest Cricket supporters in the United States, Michael Chambers. After getting my crash course in what Cricket actually is and having the construction of the pitch explained to me, it was clearly evident that this section of Keney Park is almost like sacred ground to the cricket players and their community.
A much better solution needs to be worked out and the members of the West Indian community and the members of the Cricket Hall of Fame seem ready to do their part. At a meeting scheduled last week, pre jersey barriers, HPD was apparently a no show, even though I am told they had committed to attending.
That is not the way bridges to the Community are built. Another meeting is scheduled for this week, hopefully HPD will attend this meeting and have an honest, respectful dialogue to come to an equitable decision that makes sense. A concrete barrier is not the solution