Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A new park for downtown Houston

Hey, I think this 12-acre park, which will be built on land currently occupied by surface parking in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center, is a good idea.

But I've gotta be honest: when I hear the phrase "downtown Houston park," the first thing that comes to my mind are a bunch of homeless people sleeping under trees, digging through garbage cans, relieving themselves in public and asking passersby for spare change.

Given the number of homeless people circulating around downtown Houston - especially the east end of downtown - what's going to be done to keep this park from going the same way as other downtown green spaces like Root Memorial Square or Sesquicentennial Park and becoming another big campground for the indigent? Is the understaffed Houston Police Department finally going to begin enforcing the city's civility ordinances? Are soup kitchens and church groups going to be be disallowed from their regular "feed-and-preach-to-the-homeless" activities here (and how could you legally and constitutionally structure such a restriction, anyway)?

It’s hard not to feel sorry for the homeless, especially since an overwhelming number of them suffer from mental problems or drug and alcohol addictions that keep them from living a normal life. But the unfortunate fact is that they make other people uncomfortable. As nice as this park might be, families aren't going to want to visit if the place develops a reputation as another downtown homeless hangout.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Agreed completely - it irritates me how many of (our?) fellow urbanists are wooly-headed idiots when it comes to the homeless issue. You're not going to get Mister Suburban CEO to move his company downtown if he has to walk around bums lying in their own urine every day to do so.