Friday, May 12, 2006

Kids 1, Crackheads 0

There's a happy ending to the picnic table story at Hunter-Miller Park, despite the ICCA leaders' desperate attempt to spin the issue.

The members who turned up for Wednesday’s meeting voted overwhelmingly to keep the picnic tables out of the Queen & N. Fayette Street park for the time being.

Kids 1, crackheads 0. That's the kind of "score" the Growler likes.

It was a common sense issue. If the police say that crack dealers and their customers are using the tables to conduct business, the tables need to stay out. Plus there's agreement that the park has enjoyed a boom in use by children and parents since the tables and bleachers left.

As for the spin, ICCA officers clearly must have worried they were starting to look like crack dealers' best buddies by insisting on a vote. At Wednesday's meeting the new party line was that ICCA was forced by Recreation & Parks to take a vote because the City was fielding complaints from office workers who missed the picnic table at lunch time. Right...

Some skeptical members pointed out that there are few if any office workers who regularly use the park. And when pressed, ICCA leaders couldn't state how many calls the City received or which local businesses these callers represented.

Naturally, the Growler suspects something else is at work here. It's hard to picture the Parks folks hell-bent on returning the old tables and twisting ICCA's arm to hold a vote, since it was the police themselves who requested them to remove the tables some two months ago. And why would Recreation & Parks staff be catering to the whining of office workers, who probably don't live in Alexandria and who use the park only two hours a day, if at all.

You can bet we haven't heard the last of these tables. It's a sure thing that they will be brought up again at ICCA, well before FY 2008 when the park is scheduled for an official redesign.

But for now we can sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of children laughing and playing joyously in the park.