Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Write Stuff

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Write Stuff

Article excerpt

Want to respond to something you read? Parks & Recreation magazine welcomes your input on any topic. Please send e-mails to edit@nrpa.org, fax to (703) 858-0794 or write to Parks & Recreation, Letters to the Editor, 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148.

Sexual Activity in Parks

I am pleased that NRPA is finally addressing the issue of sexual activity in parks ("Sex in City Parks," February 2007). Most park managers know that sexual activity in parks is really not an emerging issue; it is something we have dealt with for quite some time. Yet, I have never seen the issue addressed at any conference or workshop I have attended in 30 years of managing parks.

Our agency operates a park that was plagued with illicit sexual activity for several years. The activity was primarily from gay men soliciting visitors and, in some cases, even our own employees. The activity we are dealing with is illegal solicitation, which negatively impacts the public's perception of the park's safety and our agency's perceived management effectiveness.

We initially tried to reduce the activity with undercover operations by the sheriff's department and state police. The results of the undercover operation were publicized in the media, which only gave the park a more negative reputation and led to the general public avoiding the park even more.

The particular park is a beautiful, well-maintained rural park, but with limited staffing for park patrols or enforcement activities. To reduce the anonymous nature of park visits, we installed security cameras at the park entrance and in a parking lot that was a prime solicitation area. …

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