As temps rise, so will the number of people outside
by Ed Wendell
May 13, 2020 | 211 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The warmer weather brought more people to Strack Pond in Forest Park.
The warmer weather brought more people to Strack Pond in Forest Park.
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Police monitor a packed Victory Field.
Police monitor a packed Victory Field.
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It’s been so cold lately that I wonder if January ever ended. These cold temps have served their purpose, though. The cold days and nights have made it easier to keep people inside.

But as we saw last weekend, as soon as the warm sunny days arrive people are going to leave their homes. They’re going to visit the parks and the beaches. and if they’re closed they’ll find somewhere else to go.

People need to get out, to be free. It’s human nature.

We’re so very fortunate to have Forest Park right here in Woodhaven. I have a walk that I like to take that brings me down to Strack Pond and up again, down Baby Carriage Lane to 86th and Park Lane South, then up the steps at Forest Parkway.

In recent weeks, you would hardly see anyone in the park, either on the road or on the trails. It wasn’t uncommon to reach the Seuffert Bandshell only to find yourself the only person there.

But when the sun came out and temperatures started to creep into the 70s, the park began to fill up. Suddenly, there were people. I was going to say crowds of people, but it was just small groups and families, but I suspect our definition of what constitutes a crowd has changed.

Strack Pond was a popular destination. Small groups of people kept their distances from other small groups of people.

The Seuffert Bandshell was another popular spot. Again, people respectfully kept their distance from each other. And it was fairly easy to do as the bandshell is pretty roomy and there were only a few dozen people.

Victory Field was busy, and had it not been for all the masks and the police supervision it might have looked like a normal spring day.

It was good seeing all those people again even if it was short lived. A few days later we were back to January-like weather and even had a few snow flurries.

But in a week or two we’ll be back in the 70s to stay for the next few months, and we’re not keeping people inside and well behaved once that happens.

The police have been issuing summonses and arresting people for violating social distancing guidelines. They simply do not have the staffing to keep that going once the front doors of millions of homes and apartments open and people craving sunshine emerge.

It wasn’t that long ago that police told us they couldn’t do anything about the young men riding their bikes down Jamaica Avenue, playing games of chicken with buses and seniors.

The city couldn’t offer much help when it came to people defecating on the sidewalks of Forest Parkway.

But now they’re going to police the interactions of millions of citizens? They’re going to ticket or arrest millions of people for standing too close to each other? Good luck with that.

So it’s up to us to police ourselves. I don’t mean you run up to people like Gomer Pyle, shouting “citizen’s arrest!”

I mean we all keep an eye on our own behavior. If you see people behaving recklessly, walk the other way. Steer clear.

Forest Park is big enough for a lot of people and it’s about to get bigger. The city is eyeing places it can open up for extra pedestrian traffic.

The stretch of road from Oak Ridge (the old golf clubhouse) to the bandshell is closed to vehicular traffic and it’s a lovely walk. Also, Freedom Drive from Myrtle Avenue to Park Lane South and 102nd Street has been closed and turned over to pedestrians.

And the city is planning to open golf courses to the public to give people more space to walk. These are the smart solutions to the problems warm weather will bring.

So let’s all do our job and keep ourselves and our friends and neighbors safe and leave the police out of this. They have more important things to do and they’re not going to be able to stop it in the long run anyway.

We’re five weeks away from summer. Be careful and be safe.
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