Post Rules at Pocket Parks [OPINION]
What the heck is all of the debate about over posting the hours of operation at the city's pocket parks? Just do it.
The City Council last Thursday voted 5-4 to defeat a request by Public Safety Committee co-chair Debora Coelho to have the committee discuss the posting signs at the pocket parks. The "No Trespassing" signs would inform visitors that all city parks are closed to visitors overnight and that a violation of the rules would be considered trespassing. Simple, no? Of course not.
Coelho's motion was co-sponsored by veteran Ward 6 Councilor Joe Lopes and had the full support of the committee chair, veteran Councilor Brian Gomes. Coehlo says posting the signs also has the support of the police department.
Coelho says drug dealers and prostitutes tend to frequent some of the pocket parks after dark and the parks are often littered with trash by late-night visitors. She says the signs would give police another tool in dealing with these issues.
For some bizarre reason, five councilors refused to even allow the matter to be sent to committee for discussion. What the hell is that all about? No one is suggesting that laws be changed, only that the existing rules be posted for all the world to see. What is the problem?
At-Large Councilor Ian Abreu tells me "signs don't work." Excuse me, but this is the councilor who insisted upon signs to discourage motorists from donating to the beggars, remember?
If signs don't work, why do we have so many posted throughout the city reminding residents of the laws? Signs with such reminders as "No Parking," "No Turn on Red," and "Speed Limit 30" dot our streets from Clark's Point to Sassaquin. Do those signs work?
While conceding that there are problems at some pocket parks at night, Abreu calls this debate "political theater in an election year." Yeah, he may be on to something there.
Councilor Gomes has prepared a motion for the next meeting calling for the immediate installation of signage at all of the city's parks listing the hours of operation and expressly prohibiting drug dealing, solicitation, and littering.
Since when does the City Council deny a member the courtesy of sending a matter of public safety to committee for discussion? Especially when the motion has the support of the chair and co-chair of the Public Safety Committee and the police? Now that smacks of election-year politics to me.
Anyone with questions about why Coelho's request for a committee discussion was denied might want to contact Council President Linda Morad, Ward 2 Councilor Maria Giesta, Ward 4 Councilor Dana Rebeiro, Ward 5 Councilor Scott Lima or At-Large Councilor Ian Abreu for an explanation as to why they voted against it. I am all ears.
This has to be among the dumbest debates to emerge from Council chamber in some time–and that says a lot.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.