Thursday, October 18, 2007

Park Safety and Bicentennial Mall Rape on the Tennessean's Editorial Page

Tennessean editors finally speak out about the Bicentennial Mall rape in September and they issue a milquetoast call on the state to find more resources to "maintain security" at the parks. Their most creative idea is to post signs that warn people that the park is considered a "day-use" park only. I would think that emergency kiosks and security cameras would be a better bare minimum if the state does not have the resources to increase ranger presence in the park.

The editors also publish two comments by Park Directors. One is from Metro Director, Roy Wilson, which seems a waste of space since Bicentennial Mall security has nothing to do with Metro Parks.

The other opinion is from State Parks Commissioner, Jim Fyke, who writes in broad generalities and in a promotional style about park security. He never deals specifically with conditions at Bicentennial Mall, choosing instead to trumpet Parks System Awards and park rangers who have first response training. But a thousand gold medals would be little solace to a woman fending off a rapist, and the fact that a park ranger saved a boy from a snake bite somewhere else in Tennessee will not protect the life of pedestrians who might find themselves crossing Bicentennial Mall after midnight or before 7:00 in the morning. His entire response seems like a cavalier exercise in minimizing safety in the North End.

On a related subject, I still have not received a reply from either State House Representative Mary Pruitt or State Senator Thelma Harper on what they plan to do to fund increased park safety. I wrote them a letter a week ago.

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