After gathering information and listening carefully to views on all sides, the council voted on Tuesday to follow the Parks and Open Space Committee’s recommendation and keep Seawall Park open 24/7. After nine months they will re-evaluate that decision based on whether there are problems in the park, and, if so, would closing the park at night help. This is a middle ground that will allow more data gathering and lead to a more informed decision at a later date.
Chief of Police Dave Marks made it clear that he was unhappy with the decision, saying that a vocal minority was driving this decision and that people of his acquaintance wanted the park closed at night. He wants the public to vote on this issue.
In my opinion, he is missing the point. This isn’t primarily about how many people hold which opinion. It’s about whether there is a problem, how big is it and would closing the park at night help that problem.
The truth is his own police reports show zero reports of problems in Seawall Park (or any Langley park) over the past year. Zero. There is only one report for finding one needle on private property under the Dog House porch. Additionally, we know that 40 needles were found in that same place earlier this fall and that a homeless couple camped for three weeks under a First Street business, though police reports weren’t written for those incidents. Putting up a sign closing the park at night would solve neither of those problems. Increased police patrols and public use of the park at night discourage that kind of problem. And really, that’s only three incidents in an entire year. Not exactly a crime wave.
Anyway, thanks to the council for their prudent solution to this contentious issue.