In the spirit of "it takes a village," we're asking for a little neighborly help from everyone in managing the tweens and teens at Lucy Flower Park. We've heard the complaints, and we know that there are groups of older kids hanging out at the playground who have been cursing, fighting, and causing general disturbances on an almost daily basis. While we have no desire to drive these kids out of the park entirely, we need to make sure they understand that Lucy Flower was built primarily for the 12-and-under crowd, and that this type of disruptive behavior will NOT be tolerated.
If you witness aggressive or intimidating behavior from older kids and are comfortable confronting the group, a simple "please stop" can go a long way toward keeping the peace. A lot of these children don't have adults challenging their authority on a regular basis, and you might be surprised at how easily they comply when treated with a little respect.
But for those times when you are not comfortable confronting the group, or if your request falls on deaf ears, PLEASE call 911 to report a disturbance in the park. There's no need to embellish what's going on, but it's important to make the 911 operator understand that you feel intimidated and/or unsafe. And if no patrol car shows up in a timely fashion, call again. And again. And yet again, if necessary! Repeated calls are the only way for us to get CPD's attention — and call volume is what influences the number of patrol cars assigned to our area.
In the meantime, the WBNA and MLFPAC will continue to keep the lines of communication open with the Alderman's office and the 14th District. For what it's worth, we have already noticed an uptick in patrol cars cruising around Lucy Flower this summer, so there does seem to be some sort of acknowledgment that our shiny new park might have become an "attractive nuisance" for kids with nothing better to do than make trouble. In fact, we saw this same kind of problem behavior when Maplewood Park was renovated in 2006. But if we're patient in our tone and consistent with our message, we're confident that once the novelty of the new Lucy wears off, these kids will move on.
Thank you for being the eyes and ears of West Bucktown, and for letting us know when and where problems continue to persist!