When two so-called pocket parks opened on Acushnet Avenue, the intent was to provide a place for near North End residents to relax outdoors. The house lot-sized spaces were a refuge for those not close enough to enjoy Brooklawn Park regularly.

What happened instead could have been predicted.

The pocket parks, located at the corner of Acushnet Avenue and Nye Street and Acushnet Avenue and Phillips Avenue, are anything but relaxing for those who live in the neighborhood.

Ward 2 City Councilor Maria Giesta has asked her colleagues to close the pocket parks. Giesta says the council should explore selling the property to private buyers or perhaps convert the parks to municipal parking lots.

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Giesta and At-Large Councilor Deb Coehlo, who lives near the Nye Street park, say the pocket parks have become havens for drug dealing, open prostitution – including lewd sex acts – public defecation, and are littered with needles. Both say the parks are dangerous places after dark.

There are signs posted in the pocket parks advising that they are closed to the public after sunset. The warnings go unheeded. There is only so much an overworked and understaffed police department can do about it.

And so the parks must close.

Since grant money was used to develop the pocket parks, there could be an issue about how and whether they can be disposed of. The council will have to figure it out.

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Once again, our world shrinks by a few more yards because society feels it must put the rights of a handful of malcontents ahead of the interests of the vast majority. We are told these folks have rights, too. Back in the day, the police had more latitude in dealing with such issues. Today, the ACLU and other groups stand ready to protect and defend those whose anti-social behavior is a threat to the peace of the rest of the community.

What a shame.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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