State Street safety not a matter of economics

· Sep 7, 2001 Tweet

As someone who has both lived and worked next to State Street for almost 12 years, I am very concerned about making sure it is a pleasant place for everyone. As program director of Senior Summer School I worry about how my summer residents, all senior citizens visiting from out-of-state, view the safety of State Street. But before we can fix any problems that may exist, we need to make sure we agree on what is causing the problems.

From many people’s perspective, the biggest concern regarding State Street is Peace Park. This year alone, the police report that they responded to 191 calls regarding the park.
To address the problem, and despite her reservations, Mayor Sue Bauman has rightfully decided to create a task force to look into the future of the park. I applaud the mayor for realizing that the problem isn’t automatically simple to solve.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same thing about Ald. Todd Jarrell. He was quoted Aug. 25 in the Capital Times saying the controversy over the park is “Economics 101.” He goes on to say that the Overture Center is driving property rates and rents so high that tenants can’t afford to live in their homes.

Really? Going by Jarrell’s explanation, shouldn’t we be seeing mostly college students and young adults hanging out at the park, since that is primarily the makeup of the neighborhood? You’d think so, but as any visitor to State Street can attest, the people hanging out at Peace Park are mostly either high school students, homeless and/or runaways. This is not a group of people who are being squeezed out of their homes because Overture is driving up their rent.

Let’s be clear: Rent in this city is a problem and should be looked at. But let’s not make it the cause of all evil. Let us all hope that the task force can look into the issue, realizing that it isn’t necessarily as simple as “Economics 101.”

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This article was published Sep 7, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Sep 7, 2001 at 12:00 am

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