Today marks the date for the official reopening of Washington Park in Cincinnati. Once a cemetery, it later became a popular park across from Cincinnati's Music Hall which served as an event venue & concert hall for over a hundred years. The park served for people's entertainment as well.
At one point, as the neighborhood had declined, activists established homeless shelters and a dizzying number of social services in the area as the neighborhood was deemed a haven for the homeless & destitute. This resulted in the park being overrun by loud, vulgar vagrants & beggars. The park became a public restroom & was shunned by most people.
As a wealthier population has moved into the neighborhood & the park has been closed for a year as upgrades including an underground parking garage (in an old cemetery - the mind boggles), people are hoping the park can be a more genteel place as it once was & was intended to be.
There's 2 sides to this. There's the people who want a nice place free of foul smells & pestering panhandlers as pointed out at Cincinnati Blog. Then there's the homeless advocates who would just like to have their ghetto back as reflected at The Cincinnati Beacon.
In an effort to keep the park nice, new rules have been put into place (most of which aren't that new). But do the rules go too far? There's a trend to outlaw "acts of daily living" which just sounds crazy - kinda like "free speech zones". NPR discusses the issue here.
We need to have balance. We need to be civil. The homeless advocates, in my mind, usually want the whole pie. Some of these new laws & regulations are just insane, tho. If I fall asleep in a park on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I'm illegal? You can't enjoy a glass of wine at a summer concert in the park? I can't feed the birds? I've gone on about banning amplification before here and here. This is ridiculous in the 21st century. One rule for Washington Park is "No dropping off of food or clothing". I know that has been an issue for what amount to "drive by" charities who just leave a mess after their good deeds are done. I hope they will issue permits for this kind of activity, tho.
As far as keeping the neighborhood up in the future, I think there's some good advice here by bfwissel.