As a new resident and homeowner in Salemtown, with a view almost in site of our state capitol, I'm alarmed at a recent crime (a terrible rape) that occurred in the Bicentennial Mall, and I'm even more alarmed at the response, which seems to be, collectively: too bad.
I'm aware that I moved into the Nashville council district that has the highest rate of violent crime (including rape), and I'm aware that the Bicentennial Mall is also located in this area. I've been delighted to begin participating in the Salemtown Neighbors neighborhood association and have already benefitted from the increased awareness of safety efforts in our area with the help of Metro police who authorize the attendance of a Community Affairs Officer to our meetings. I know our community finds the crime rate unacceptable and continues to look to partner with each other, as well as state and local officials to work to bring the crime rate down.
I also live and share a life with a young woman who attends Meharry Medical College, the principle reason we began looking into residences in the North End. The Bicentennial Mall lies squarely between us and downtown Nashville. It's distressing to think that it could become an after-hours haven for predators who could easily prey on passers-by the urban park in the night. My concern for my girlfriend's safety (and my own) was already somewhat high when we made our decision to move to Salemtown because neither of us own or have regular access to a car. We rely on mass transit and our own bike/ped solutions to get around the city. If we have no safe routes to the heart of our city after sunset, that's a problem.
I never would've guessed that the state response to concerned citizens would involve all sorts of hemming, hawing, and stonewalling when the truth of the matter seems to be: we don't have the resources. Worse, part of the response seems to have been couched in terms of not getting enough complaints. Isn't a single life-shattering crime a complaint implicitly vigorous enough to merit some repsonse?
If, in fact, we don't have the resources, then that should be a straightforward response, even if not a satisfactory one. If, in fact, we don't have the resources to provide any solutions (even emergency kiosks) to the issue of an urban state park not ability to guarantee the safety even of its borders to the metropolitan residents who surround it, then a new question arises: how do we get the resources?
I am sending this to a number of state and city officials in consideration of the unusual nature of this park, which is distinctly urban and open. I gladly await an answer to my question and look forward to participating in a productive discussion about how I can be helpful in working toward an effective answer.
Thanks to all for your time and service.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Liberadio's Freddie O'Connell, who is also one of my neighbors, writes his own letter asking that State Parks do more to provide overnight security at Bicentennial Mall. Here is Freddie in his own effective words: