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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Monroe Park Diary: Look Ma, No Kids!

I've written a few of these now and made a point of stopping in the park nearly everyday this week. Sometimes more than once. I've tried to make my point as gently as possible that the park is underused, misused, and neglected, and that continuing to use the park as a homeless day care center is wrong headed, bad for the park and bad for Richmond and probably bad for the homeless. I've shared this with others that I think need to know about the reality, not the myth, of Monroe Park, but one person made an observation that really hits home. There are no children in the park, not one. Families stay away like the plague. If anything makes the point as to what we are losing by doing nothing or by doing something, but not doing it right, this does. Yes students use the park, not many but a few. The transient population uses the park, four or five times the number of students, but still, zero children.

I hear from and about people that think the park is just fine, they use it and don't find anything objectionable. I know they are there. I am one of them (meaning I use it too), one of the few. In six recent visits I counted no more than 50 "non homeless" types in or passing through the park, a paltry number. The renewal of Monroe Park has been close to my heart for many years. To have come this far and not go all the way is pathetic. It's time to close the park and make a showplace for the city of Richmond. It should be a must see destination to anyone who is traveling to or visiting Richmond. It should a the first or second place neighbors and students think of going on a beautiful day. If this plan meets fruition, it will be. The controversy will fade into oblivion and people will take justifiable pride in our oldest and most historic park. Hearing and seeing children playing in the park will make effort worthwhile and the handwringing look silly.

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