27 September 2006

Pointers and Comment

I had a few quick thoughts on a variety of issues today. First off, double-props to HoCo Hayduke for his posts on Merriweather and Tot Lot litter patrol. Evan at HoCo Blog also briefly weighs in on the subject.

As a person that has experienced Columbia through the eyes of a young boy, through adulthood and now mid-life, I can say that I have seen probably every use and misuse (alternative use?) of tot lots. Yes, Hayduke goes over the top on the issue, but the cynicism represents a real yearning for engagement of idle youth. This story isn’t new to Columbia and I think it has gotten worse.

For example, as a teenager in 1982, I could meet friends or take a date to the movies in Town Center. After the movie, we could walk the lakefront, take a paddleboat ride, or have a coke and eat fried zucchini at outdoor Clyde’s with a view of the lake. Today, teens can still go the movies in Town Center. However, after the movie, kids have little choice of activities. The lakefront is not accessible from the movie theatre. There are no paddle boats. The closest restaurant to the movie theatre is the Cheesecake Factory (most likely reservations required). This is not a dig against the Cheesecake Factory, I understand they have good food. So after teens have gone to the movies, they have to use their own creativity for spending time. Unfortunately, some resort to alcohol and we wind up with the tot lot trash problem. This is only one scenario; there are many others.

What I’m trying to illustrate here is that there needs to be some programming of space to include teens. I’m sure during contract negotiations for the restaurant site adjacent to the movies, somebody must have thought, “Cheesecake Factory, now there’s a place that teens can enjoy as part of their night out at the movies,” or was another demographic the target patrons for such an establishment?

I am also intrigued the following passage:

The Howard County Police Department does not collect information about
playgrounds if they do not have a formal address, Howard County Police
Department spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said.
Although the Columbia tot lots (playgrounds) do not have an official address, each playground has a special 3 alphanumeric designation that the county recognizes. This was set up such that if an emergency happened at a tot lot, a resident could call 911 and report the incident at tot lot OM2 and services could respond without having to go through the long description of “the tot lot is behind Stevens Forest Pool and at the end of Pamplona Drive and Bull Ring Lane.” So if the tot lot location is in the system, could it not be used to track information?

Equally disturbing are the comments of neighbors:
The playground at the corner of Gray Rock Drive and Fragile Sail Way is bordered
by a wooded area, and neighbors say teens loitering there at night are a
nuisance, the letter states.

I believe we should all be careful not to label people. Teens do not become a nuisance until the community ignores them enough to become a nuisance. For example, does the Dorsey’s Search Village Board have a teen rep position? Such a position would allow insight into teen/adolescent condition in Dorsey’s Search before problems arise.

In other news, the NASA Mars Rover Opportunity is about to close in on Victoria Crater . This will be a huge event for other-world exploration and geology (exo-geology?). Check in and check it out.

Circling back to Merriweather, the article in today’s Baltimore Examiner has a pretty misleading headline “Pavilion’s future in jeopardy” Since the Examiner started showing up on my driveway every morning (without my consent) I have certainly noticed the headline writer has a certain ability to get my attention. In my opinion, the headline contradicts what is actually written in the story. I understand the need to draw people in to the story, but the sensational headline may have misled those who did not have time to read the story.

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