Dec 18, ’12:
Sometimes you just look at a civic boondoggle and laugh to keep from crying. You roll your eyes and say “..... and what numbnutz came up with this boffo idea?” – The City of Durham (don’t laugh yet!) constructed a jogging trail thru one of Durham’s more notorious crime-ridden neighborhoods – and Guess What? – it has become “like a waterhole in the Serengeti”
aka attracting a steady supply of naïve Nike-shod prey for the neighborhood predators. ........
I admit “I Love my city’s Greenway System”.
As a good Conservative I realize there are issues of eminent domain with such facilities and asphalt “greenways” cost tax dollars to construct and maintain..... blah blah blah. That said I appreciate the 30+ miles of paved trails in my community that I enjoy 4-5 times each week.
A “greenway”, by definition, is a paved (or gravel) asphalt path about 10’ wide that meanders thru wooden areas and along streams and creeks
but in juxtaposition to residential and commercial neighborhoods. The experience is that you are surrounded by tranquil nature which is surrounded by a bustling community. These paths are popular with joggers, walkers, and bikers of all ages and demographic factions.
I love everything about this Greenway System – its easy (free?) availability, its tranquility and the fellow humans I encounter on my treks. I never engage anyone but I do smile and give a friendly wave that is usually returned in kind. Oh, and I am a “big guy” who can affect a “don’t mess with me” persona very quickly. That last line leads us over to DURHAM and the aforementioned “civic boondoggle”.
Durham is an “interesting community” of various and distinct socio-cultural factions
. A rainbow community of many “colors” and living conditions. Describing Durham, more so than most communities, is truly “describing an elephant”. Think of Durham as a civic "brunswick stew". If you demand to know everything that's in it.... you won't eat it.
Does this socio-cultural crockpot “work”? If by “work” do you mean is it a civic circus in a constant state of chaos and confusion? Sure, pretty much. Such chaos and confusion is not without its “charm”.... if you consider a carnival sideshow “charming”. I kinda do. Granted, I don’t live in it. I watch it like I do a sideshow. At the end of the day I don’t want to marry the bearded lady or sleep in the same room with JoJo The Dog-faced Boy.
Sooooo, Durham decides to construct its very own greenway path system. They call it the American Tobacco Trail (ATT)
because it starts beside the old American Tobacco Company Factory next to the Bulls’ ballpark. That’s all well & good. From there it heads south...... towards Southpoint - one of the nicest upscale retail complexes you’ll find anywhere. That’s good too. About a mile or so down the ATT it hits a major “uh oh”.
The ATT runs smack dab thru what can be politely called “a really really scary urban crime zone”.
We’re talking crack-houses, whore-houses and gang hangouts. The ATT proceeds for about a mile thru a neighborhood that if you were driving thru it in an armored HumVee you would lock your doors and keep your head on a swivel. ...... and polite middle-class Caucasian joggers prance along this path wearing t-shirts, jogging shorts and running shoes. Ah geee, that's dumb. That’s Durham.
I trekked this path several years ago on a Fall afternoon. As noted, I am a "big guy" (6'3" 230) and never been called "a scaredy cat". My spider senses told me very clearly - "Dude, you and Toto ain't in Kansas any more. Pick up your pace and get the hell outta here pronto."
Recall the scene in the first Chevy Chase "Vacation" movie where the Griswolds get lost in East St Louis and their station wagon is stripped. Recall the Roadhouse scene in Animal House with Otis Daye & The Knights. ..... Me (and Toto) exited stage right.
Don’t these nice little joggers and jogg-ettes get mugged and assaulted? Well sure.... on pretty much a weekly basis.
What has the City of Durham “done about it”. (1) They held a candlelight vigil a few months back. (??) And (2) then a city councilman accompanied by an armed SWAT team took a photo op stroll along the ATT at noon with a film crew and pronounced it perfectly safe. (??) (3) Three days/week a Durham policeman on a bicycle rides thru the area from 3-5 PM. (??).... the muggers use those hours to take naps and play video games.
I think there are plans for (4) a lapel ribbon & bumper sticker campaign too. #5 is to have joggers whistle Kumbaya as they try to run the gauntlet.
Have any of these whizbang solutions done any good whatsoever in solving the problem? No, of course not.
What we have here is the urban version of – A Waterhole In The Serengeti.
Nature (aka The City of Durham) has provided an
attractive pipeline to bring naïve unsuspecting prey (Nike-shod wildebeast) to hungry predators waiting for their next meal.
Is there a “practical solution”?
“Practical” rules out leveling the neighborhood with Napalm and relocating “the locals” to the Hindu Kush. “Practical” rules out building a Kevlar tunnel over the ATT. “Practical” rules out any more really stoopid PC-social engineering scenarios. “Practical” leaves you with:
Post LARGE 4x8’ warning signs on either end of the Danger Zone stating:
DANGER – ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!!
A skull & crossbones might be a nice touch. Maybe a picture of a lion gnawing on the carcass of a wildebeast? If any happy-go-lucky little Nike-shod wildebeasts still want to prance down the AT Trail..... so be it.
Yes, I am assuming that Nike-shod wildebeasts can read. Every plan has one contingency you can’t control.