The dead-end of Inwood Terrace at the river has long been a hidden gem of waterfront access. There are old steps down to a retaining wall and an actual beach where waves lap on the shore. But of late, the area has been repeatedly tagged with offensive graffiti and littered with debris. It has always been a teenage “hangout” but the level of illegal activity has certainly increased this past year. Perhaps it is due in part to changes in ownership and occupancy of homes in the immediate area who monitored activity in the past. But the fact remains that the abuse has become a real problem.
The area is actual part of the right-of way of Inwood Terrace and not a park. Some residents were urging that it be designated a park believing that the designation would provide greater oversight. You may have read about the issue in the Resident and I wanted to clarify a few points in that article. I met on site with the resident who lives immediately adjacent on the water as well as several others from the neighborhood, Chief Nemeth from JSO, and representatives of both the Parks and Public Works Department. We discussed the neighbors’ suggestion of official designation as a park and I attempted to explain that this would have little if any positive impact, and possibly a negative one.
If designated a park the location would be identified as such on the City website and listings of recreational opportunities. There is no legal parking since the street is signed “No Parking” but there would be pressure to remove those signs to facilitate park access. Certainly the park would close at dusk as do other parks but just like Riverfront Park, without a physical barrier to secure the park, there is little enforcement of that rule. Calling JSO every time someone is seen in the area after dusk is a strain on limited resources. The City right of way can also be signed closed at dusk- without designation as a park- but that does not help with enforcement.
The suggestion of a fence was not to limit access by the public during the day and it was discussed and fully intended that the gate to the walkway would remain open through daylight hours. Closing the gate at night would make access after dark more difficult, but certainly not impossible, and would make it more difficult to flee if JSO were called. It was suggested that residents could have a gate key, much like athletic associations do, to assist with locking up if they were willing to do so. I have found in other locations that we can make and post rules and install lights but these steps have little success without enforcement, and there is simply not enough money to assign JSO or City personnel to monitor all our parks at night- enforcement is in response to calls from residents and it was hoped that the fence would reduce the number of those calls.
Since then, several neighbors have initiated their own clean-up and I applaud their efforts. They have some great ideas that can be implemented on the adjacent private lots, as well as ideas to deter graffiti. As requested, I have made connections for them and delayed any further discussion or action on the fence. I am hopeful that a pro-active neighborhood effort, and monitoring of activity by those on the street will preclude the need for any further City action.