Advertisement

Street-corner solutions

June 10, 1997

Bob Bruchey, who promised voters he'd deal with the crime issue if elected mayor of Hagerstown, took a step in that direction Monday night, bringing together youths and older residents of the city's West End to discuss how to curb late-night disturbances there. It's a fine start that should be followed by a plan of action by those who care about the city's youth.

Inter-generational conflicts develop when youths gather on the West End's street corners late at night, after older residents have gone to bed. When residents complain, some have been cursed at and groups of youths have sometimes refused to clear a path for residents coming past them on the sidewalk.

Troy Canfield, a 24-year-old West End native who returns for frequent visits, pledged that he and his friends would be more respectful in the future. The pledge is welcome, but it will take more than promises to maintain calm on hot summer nights.

Advertisement

We suggest that what the West End needs is a recreation center to provide a place for young people to gather without disturbing adults who must get up early for work the next day. It need not be elaborate, because if what the youths were seeking was physical-fitness equipment and the like, they could go to the Hagerstown YMCA.

No, what they want is a gathering place where they can meet and talk to friends. A warehouse or a storefront would do, provided money can be raised to bring the structure up to code and most important, to provide some light supervision.

Since they've got the experience, we'd like to see a group like the YMCA or the Washington County Boys and Girls Club take over the task. But without new funding, that may be impossible in the short run. Other possibilities include tapping Crime Watch volunteers who'd be on the street anyway, or creating a joint-use building - like a combined a police substation and rec center.

Whatever happens, we'd hate to see Monday's positive start fade away in the summer's heat. Those who profess to care about the West End and the city's youth should be able to find a better place for them to spend time than the city's street corners.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|