Schenectady’s parks could benefit from urban ranger corps
Gazette reporter Kathleen Moore recently wrote about the problems faced by residents living near Carrie Street Park, one of the two dozen parks located in Schenectady [July 8 Gazette].
One resident reported that she had been making complaints to the city for 10 years about children who have committed serious acts of vandalism in the area. City officials have promised to send in more police patrols and are looking into the possibility of installing new surveillance cameras in order to deter such crimes.
Other ideas were also cited in the article, including the use of barbed wire fences by homeowners and the closing of the Carrie Street Park unless a park attendant could be rehired. Neither approach was endorsed by city officials interviewed for the article.
Various communities have dealt with vandalism and other problems in parks and recreational facilities through the establishment of park rangers. These towns and cities have improved the safety of their recreational resources by having uniformed, qualified and trained personnel serve as park supervisors, guides and monitors.
The establishment of such an urban park ranger corps need not be a tax burden if the majority of the personnel assigned to the facilities are volunteers. There are currently several outstanding criminal justice degree programs within or nearby the city. Each of these colleges has either optional or required internship programs. Serving as a full-time seasonal (summer) intern in an urban park ranger corps would be an ideal work experience for not only criminal justice majors, but also students in human services, governmental affairs, environmental studies, physical education, sociology and psychology.
Of course, skeptics might argue that college students might be ill-prepared to tackle the responsibilities associated with maintaining safety and security at Schenectady’s 24 or so community parks and four swimming pools. However, urban park rangers are individuals who have been carefully screened for having the necessary qualifications and are provided with state-certified peace officer training commensurate with their duties.
Such training is a critical aspect of urban ranger preparation for preventing the types of vandalism and rowdyism currently taking place in the public spaces that have been reserved for the relaxation and enjoyment of city residents.
Schenectady is very fortunate to have the key resources for an urban ranger program. First, there will be several hundred students to choose from; second, the Zone 5 Police Academy is fully equipped to offer the space for the required training; and third, well-qualified volunteer peace officer certified training instructors are merely waiting to be asked for their assistance.
Although the summer months have already started, it is not too late to begin recruiting and training a new urban ranger corps for the city of Schenectady. In the meantime, city officials should encourage the immediate establishment of park citizen watches under the direction of the Police Department. These groups, composed of concerned residents, will be very helpful in attempting to pinpoint the precise location where surveillance cameras would have the greatest deterrence.
Martin A. Greenberg
The writer is former chairman of the Department of Criminal Justice at SUNY-Ulster and currently serves as director of education and research for the state Association of Auxiliary Police.
Military could be put to better use at home
I agree with the July 13 letter, “When aiding victims, our own must come first.” The federal government is hesitant to mete out funds to cover natural disasters, and yet they gladly send billions of dollars to Egypt, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
These so-called allies daily vilify our way of life. Let’s not even get into their treatment of women.
Bring the troops home, but don’t disband the military. Rather than call out the National Guard for help at home, why not use the military to help during times of crisis? Our defensive strategy should be that of the coiled snake. Avoid it, no problem. Step on it, and you risk death.
Using the military at home will allow us to increase the ranks which would lower unemployment and give those a chance to further their education, a career, medical benefits and a pension.
Motorists need to give bicyclists wider berth
D.J. Potts stated in his July 11 letter, “Nobody intentionally runs down bicyclists.” As a cyclist with 20 years experience, I can assure readers that Potts is uninformed and regrettably wrong.
On several occasions, I was cycling safely, courteously and lawfully, yet only my alertness and a bit of good luck kept an aggressive motorist from turning me into a dark red smear on the pavement. If readers find this unbelievable, they need only perform a Google search to see helmetcam videos recorded by cyclists as motorists mowed them down.
I readily admit the existence of rude and ignorant people who ride bicycles. (Please, let’s not call them cyclists.) They exist, as do rude and ignorant pedestrians, runners and motorists. Proposing and enacting new laws provides no solution. These people disregard the many laws already in force that are intended to discourage and punish such behavior.
This discussion about motorists and cyclists isn’t about physics or bike paths or traffic law. It’s about that cyclist on the road who is somebody’s mom or dad, or daughter or son.
We’ve all seen drivers weave their cars into other lanes and onto shoulders to avoid hitting a cat or even a little chipmunk. All we ask of motorists with whom we share the road is to give us — human beings on bicycles — the same room and consideration they so easily give a little chipmunk.
A/C is great, but take care not to overdo it
My husband and I enjoyed the show “Anything Goes” at Proctors on July 12 — the music and dancing were excellent and the farcical plot pure entertainment.
However, where we sat in the front balcony was unbearably cold and windy, beating down on us from the back of the theater. [It was] so cold that it was definitely a distraction, and I heard this same complaint during the intermission from many other patrons.
We were told by an usher that the extreme cold was at the request of the production company, in order to keep the stage cooled. The usher offered to reseat us in the orchestra section, which we declined because we deliberately chose our seats for the excellent view of the stage.
Clearly Proctors needs to revise its cooling system. Until then, we will not be purchasing tickets for summer shows.