Don't wall off Rittenhouse Square from the young
I live on Rittenhouse Square. The square is my garden, my park, a place where I relax and talk with friends. But the park is not mine alone. It is for everyone, rich and poor, all races, all age groups.
When you enter the park on a beautiful day, you will see the mosaic of people who inhabit our great city. You will also realize the shortage of seating ("Rittenhouse bans wall sitting, but few notice," Friday). So what do you do? You sit on those walls, you sit on the edges of the fountain pool. You relax on a blanket on the grass.
It is not unusual that the young are more likely to choose the wall. My aged body usually prohibits me from easily hopping up to straddle those walls, but I have done so to listen to performances, to watch the Christmas tree lighting, to take in the fresh air when the surrounding benches were filled.
If you want to protect the walls, build a curved concrete bench in front of them, so people will continue to have access for fun and relaxation. Or, is this issue not about the fragility of the walls or the use of marijuana in the park? Is it because those younger people who congregate at the walls are different? The benches are mostly crowded by the elderly, often white. The walls are crowded by the young, of many races, with too many friends for a small bench. Are they the only ones using marijuana in the park? Of course not, considering the aged are the fastest-growing users of the drug for basic comfort and pain control.
I have more of a problem with the secondhand smoke from the cigarette and cigar smokers, yet that is rarely cited as a problem. The recent crimes that have occurred in and near the park are not because the young choose the walls to congregate. Should we ban the preschoolers who play at the goat statue because they have caused its deterioration? Should we ban the grass sitters because it endangers the grass' health? Will the park advocates seek to ban dogs, citing them as a health hazard?
If you want to maintain the integrity of Rittenhouse Square, choose options that are inclusive, rather than an issue that appears discriminatory toward our younger park users.
|Gloria Finkle, Philadelphia, firstname.lastname@example.org