Jogging Near the Interstate
Source: The Town Talk, March 8, 2006

“Wrong locations picked for projects

It will never cease to amaze me how every time Alexandria officials want to build something they think the city’s citizens will use, it invariably ends up in the worst part of town.

Case in point: the walking/jogging track that winds along the river and under the expressway/Interstate 49 interchange. As I recall, it wasn’t very long after the trail opened that a woman was raped while she was walking or jogging.

I have a feeling money is going to be wasted to build something that will inevitably wind up being used solely by transients, junkies, dealers and prostitutes.

Scott Curry, Jena ”

First of all, this guy is from Jena, which is like 45 minutes away from Alexandria; why does he really care? If he is right (which he’s not), it’s for the wrong reasons. It’s a failure to understand the nature of revitalization and the broken windows syndrome.

There is some debate about this issue on a national level, but to me, it makes sense. The argument is best made by way of example. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the NYC subway system was kinda scary. People weren’t getting murdered left and right, but there was a large number of petty crimes. How did they fix the problem? They cracked down on people who weren’t paying for tickets by rounding them up and detaining them for a few hours and then slapping them with a fine. Then, they painted over all the crappy grafitti that covered nearly every subway car. The system began looking better, and guess what? People began respecting it more. Crime went way down, and today, you don’t feel like you’re going to get mugged every time you ride the subway. (Though you’re now more likely to be paranoid about terrorism).

The broken windows syndrome is exactly what is affecting Alexandria, and what Scott from Jena doesn’t understand is that the only way for the city to clean up downtown is by investing in it. See, there is a basic concept he fails to grasp: these so-called vagrants don’t like to loiter in well-lit nice areas; it makes them too high-profile. So Scott from Jena, you’re wrong, man. The city isn’t picking the wrong places for their projects; they’re just picking the wrong projects.

A jogging course and a fishing trail and a water park: WHAT ARE THEY SMOKING? It is very important that we clean up the area, but these solutions are half-baked. Surely, they can do better.

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