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My Two Cents: Playground Troubles

By Joseph Hawkins

Wednesday - 1/22/2014, 12:45pm  ET

My Two Cents is a weekly opinion column from Bethesda resident Joseph Hawkins. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BethesdaNow.com.

Joseph HawkinsLast week, it was reported that Friendship Heights residents expressed “ire” over a proposed playground in Page Park, the one right next to the fake Officer Friendly.

Apparently, Friendship Heights residents think the design of the playground is downright god-awful. The word garish was used. But this is what really caught my attention. One opponent said the playground design will “attract potential criminal perpetrators.”

Really! Is that possible?

This notion of attracting criminals is a fairly common theme when change comes to Bethesda, or to close-by neighborhoods. I’ve heard it all before.

As a Bethesdian, I think I first heard it — the theme — when advocates where working to bring the Capital Crescent Trail to town. I remember joking with a neighbor that it was ridiculous to think that someone (a “criminal perpetrator”) would ride a bike in from D.C., break into a Bethesda home, take a computer and then pedal back down the Trail to DC.

Police officer statue, Friendship HeightsI don’t usually follow the Bethesda crime reports, but I doubt the Trail is being used in such a fashion. Note that I used D.C. in the example here because it’s the normal stereotype of Bethesda criminal perpetrators: They all must come in from D.C.

The second time I heard about change attracting crime was when the county government proposed adding a second parking lot to the Bethesda Swimming Pool on Little Falls Parkway. At a community meeting, some residents claimed a second lot would bring those so-called criminal perpetrators.

I doubt we can link the second lot to increases in crime.

In fact, crime is so low in Bethesda (and neighboring areas such as Friendship Heights, Chevy Chase, and Somerset) I doubt we could link what crime there is to anything specific. And I’m almost positive we cannot link it to badly designed playgrounds.

Bring on the garish. Add a little spice to what is a very vanilla, Plain-Jane landscape!

Joseph Hawkins is a longtime Bethesda resident who remembers when there was no Capital Crescent Trail. He works full-time for an employee-owned social science research firm located Montgomery County. He is a D.C. native and for nearly 10 years, he wrote a regular column for the Montgomery Journal. He also has essays and editorials published in Education Week, the Washington Post, and Teaching Tolerance Magazine. He is a serious live music fan and is committed to checking out some live act at least once a month.