‘Spicas and Spinner Bowls’ to replace ‘needles and condoms?’
Who knew the old McGuffey Park was such a dangerous place?
In a recent Daily Progress article on the Friends of McGuffey Park, the trio of neighborhood moms who convinced the City to dole out $400,000 to renovate the little park on Second Street, and raised another $279,000 on their own to add designer play equipment and a "weeping water wall," McGuffey Friend Elvira Tate Hoskins justifies the $679,000 face-lift by characterizing the old McGuffey Park as a place where "illegal activity" was going on at night, and where "needles and condoms" were found in the morning. She also cited "steep drop-off and access issues" that threatened park-goers.
As for folks shooting up and having illicit sex in the park, one can't imagine how "spicas" and "water walls" will prevent that, but according to Siteworks, the firm designing the park, the supposed problem will be addressed by "creating better visibility from the street and by providing more potential for flow-through circulation."
However, concerns about a crime problem in the park may be exaggerated, as a look at a Charlottesville Police incident report shows only a handful of incidents since 2004 involving any kind of illegal activity, and only three involving a drug or narcotics violation.
This reminds some observers of the fall of 1995 when then-Albemarle Planning Commissioner Babs Huckle, in voting against Coran Capshaw's proposed pavilion at Pantops, warned that such venues might be the site of "shootings and stabbings"– or was that "stabbings and shootings"? (Capshaw eventually built his Pavilion downtown.)
Oddly enough, the new main entrance to McGuffey Park will be on the busy corner of West High and Second Streets, where cars coming up the hill on West High often make sharp right turns onto Second, and where drivers heading west on High often can't see cars coming up the hill as they negotiate a left turn onto Second. According to City traffic engineer Jeanie Alexander, since that area is considered a low traffic zone, no traffic study was done as part of the site plan approval for the park.