Again highlighting the City’s failure to adequately address the criminal cancer in Denby Park, the Virginian-Pilot printed an editorial in today’s paper stating, in part:
As it has been for years, though, the solution to Denby Park’s problems is not a playground. Or removing a playground. The solution is in a relentless attention to the problems of Wards Corner: a concentration of poverty, crime.
And that will take much more effort than moving a playground from one lot to another.
The following are the full comments sent to Pilot writer Harry Minium by Martin Thomas, Jr.
The Wards Corner area neighborhoods have been begging the City for years to do something about the criminal element in Denby Park. The 2003 Wards Corner Comprehensive Plan called for the demolition of the
substandard housing in the 300 blocks of San Antonio Blvd, Fort Worth Ave, and E. Little Creek Road. Not a single one of the approximately 47 buildings in those blocks has been demolished at this point.
We should not expect the citizens of Norfolk to have to raise their families in a neighborhood, which in those three blocks, is infected with a criminal cancer.
The park, almost immediately after construction, became a hangout for criminals. I support the Denby Park/Monticello Village civic league in their request to move the park to a safer area where the families in those neighborhoods can enjoy the use the park without concern for their safety.
Pertinent quote from page 28 of the Greater Wards Corner Comprehensive Plan :
[T]he high-density walkup apartments constructed in the Texas Streets section of Denby Park are, for the most part, not desirable housing. They have been built too close together, without appropriate provision of open space, and without amenities. The maze-like character of the resulting development, its proximity to highly-travelled Little Creek Road and to Interstate – 64 make it unfortunately suitable for drug dealing and for serving as a base for other criminal activity. The Norfolk police report that the situation in these buildings is getting worse. They recommend major change: the acquisition and demolition of these buildings, before the situation has even more adverse impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods. The many respectable people who are living in these buildings are being victimized by the current situation.
First of all I would like to correct Martin Thomas, Jr. …there is NO Denby Park/Monticello Village Civic League. Denby Park is partnered with Oakdale Farms and Monticello Village has its own civic league. While we in Monticello Village agree with the idea that it takes more than a playground to combat the problems in “Texas” streets we DO NOT agree that crime is the reason for moving the playground. If you look at the actual crime stats for the area you will notice the addresses AND the types of crimes those crimes are historically the same types of crimes reported BEFORE the park existed. The actual number of crimes reported, before the park, in 2007-2008 was 122, which include burglaries and shoplifting…none reported at the park. The actual number of crimes reported after the park, in 2009-2010 was 137 also includes shoplifting and burglaries…none reported at the park. We feel as if some other reason is behind the push to have the park removed. Monticello Village has a neighborhood park and when it began to attract the wrong element we did not hide in our homes we took it back with neighbors becoming involved. The people that live on the “Texas” streets and surrounding area do so by choice, if they want a better neighborhood they should make a choice and make it better, make it difficult for the criminals to do business, utilize the Crime Watch program that is set up already in the area. The City of Norfolk has clearly demonstrated the fact that the Comprehensive Plan for the area is NOT a priority and that we the residents need to take matters into our own hands. As for the Kaboom playground? If the majority of the residents in the area choose it needs to go then let it happen and please let us in Monticello Village “adopt” the equipment since ours is over 30 years old!