Council to weigh street 'play zones' for children Some residents say plan fails to address problem of rowdy teen-agers

December 13, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Children in Mount Airy may get the Town Council's permission to play in the streets -- as long as they stay in designated "play zones."

But some residents say the real problem is groups of teen-agers cursing loudly, smoking, scattering trash and vandalizing parked cars. More parks, recreational facilities and even council-approved play zones may not be the answer, they say.

The council banned playing in the streets in October in response to residents' complaints, but allowed a veto by Mayor Gerald R. Johnson to stand.

Now Town Council President R. Delaine Hobbs has proposed letting parents petition to have the council designate their streets as play zones.

"That would be an alternative that would set aside play zones on appropriate streets with inspections and approvals," Hobbs said.

Hobbs' proposal and other alternatives are scheduled for discussion by a citizens committee, which has not been appointed.

Suzanne Mead, wife of Councilman C. Robert Mead and resident of the Watersville Road area, said the proposed solution misses the point. She said teen-agers congregate in her neighborhood, leaving soda cans and cigarette butts and damaging parked cars with skateboards.

Last week, residents told council members that their children should be allowed to play in the streets because houses in some Mount Airy subdivisions have lots as small as one-eighth of an acre. Others suggested adding speed bumps to slow traffic. Some said they preferred having children play in the street near their houses to a park a half-mile away.

Several parents said they liked the play-zone proposal. But it could be difficult for neighborhood groups to get a designated play zone because the proposal would require all residents of a potential play zone and 75 percent of the residents within 300 feet of the zone to petition the parks board. The board would then send a recommendation to the council and if approved, residents would be assessed $100 to cover the cost of signs for each play zone.

Pub Date: 12/13/96

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