CA board OKs posting playground

Town Center asks for signs to address loitering by teens

December 31, 2006|By Tyrone Richardson | Tyrone Richardson,SUN REPORTER

The Columbia Association board has approved a request by Town Center officials to post signs noting the hours that one of their playgrounds is closed to prevent teenage loitering in the evenings. It was the second village to make such a request in recent months.

The Town Center Village Board asked that the association close the playground in the Banneker neighborhood from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The suggestion came as a response to the village receiving "complaints about disruptive behavior," according to a letter addressed to the association board.

The association board approved the request during its meeting Thursday, and open-space staff members will install the signs.

In an interview Friday, Lee Richardson, chairman of the Town Center Village Board, did not elaborate on what the teens were doing, other than to say, "They were hanging out."

Signs posting the closure allow police to enforce a trespassing law, association officials have said.

The Columbia Association manages 170 playgrounds.

In September, the Dorsey's Search Village Board made a request to post "closed" signs at the playground on Fragile Sail Way after receiving complaints about teenagers and young adults loitering there in the evening.

"They were gathering there, and it means they were doing something illicit because when people came up to them, they left," said Larry Winston, vice chairman of the Dorsey's Search Village Board.

Winston said the association posted signs reminding people when the park is closed, adding that the youths have ceased gathering there.

The association "posted the signs with the hours so they know, and they can read it and know," Winston said. "Police check the area every now and then, and it was a problem. But it was settled, and everybody is satisfied - except for maybe the teens."

Loitering at Columbia's playgrounds has been a problem.

Routinely, residents have complained about suspected illegal activity at tot lots, causing the association to close some at night.

In 2003, the association closed an Oakland Mills tot lot in the evening after residents complained of drug use and underage drinking at a playground near Caboose Court.

Karen Hawkins, an association spokeswoman, said it is not out of the ordinary for a playground to be closed in the wake of complaints about loitering.

"It happens occasionally, and it happens in spurts," Hawkins said.

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