Parks should be a place where neighborhood kids can go to avoid playing in traffic. But in some parts of Spokane it’s the traffic going on in the parks that’s keeping kids, adults too, away. Drug traffic, to be specific.
The thug element became so pervasive at Underhill Park, for example, that some youngsters in the East Central Community recently set up their own basketball hoop at the curb. Playing in the street seemed less risky than contending with the bullies, drug dealers and hookers who had set up shop in the neighborhood park.
Fortunately, the East Central neighbors aren’t alone in their concern. Spokane police have been paying attention, too.
Encouraged by the dramatic success of community policing efforts in the West Central community and along West First in downtown Spokane, police joined with other city agencies, and with neighborhood residents and businesses, in a campaign called Take Back Our Parks.
They will install more lighting, prune crime-concealing shrubbery, initiate bicycle patrols and take other jointly supported steps to make Underhill inhospitable to crooks.
They also plan to work with concerned citizens in other neighborhoods. East Central’s relief won’t come at other citizens’ expense.
Such steps aren’t easy. No neighborhood likes to broadcast its troubles. But problems get resolved only after they’re acknowledged.
In West Central and along West First, it took violent and tragic incidents to galvanize public willpower around corrective action. Both efforts produced phenomenal reductions in crime.
When the Children’s Museum of Spokane announced plans this week to occupy a permanent home at 1017 W. First, one museum official said the block is “currently one of the safest areas in the city.”
This of a street where, only a year ago, gunfire echoed and blood spilled twice in a 48-hour period.
Underhill Park had its own gunplay in December 1994. But to their credit, the East Central neighbors didn’t wait for another crisis incident to motivate them. They have taken commendable steps, in partnership with law enforcement and other stakeholders, to preserve and strengthen their neighborhood.
That’s good for property values, good for peace of mind and good for the quality of life.
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Doug Floyd For the editorial board
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