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Williams Park -- What's Really Wrong

Three different Mayors, all reasonably intelligent, have struggled with the Williams Park issue and we are basically where we started.

If you missed my Post  Williams Park ...Time for A Referendum? you might want to take a look at the Post and especially the Comments.

Thanks to each of you who took the time to comment. Let's keep the dialog going.

As to be expected,  the "preserve the Parks at all costs" folks are up in arms at even the suggestion of a change at Williams Park, but here is the issue.

The tradition of Williams Park as a center piece of the City and a gathering place for the people has been replaced with the tradition of Williams Park as a haven for destitute.

Several police chiefs have tried to solve the problem and probably the most intelligent comment I ever heard made by a police Chief about Williams Park was made by Chuck Harmon when he said, "we cannot incarcerate are way out of this problem".

The legacy of Williams Park over the last three or four decades has been set by legacy of the very people who populate it today. More and more it is becoming clear you cannot legislate, incarcerate or motivate people to give up something that has become part of THEIR culture.

The homeless, the addicted, the frail,  the addled go to Williams Park because it is their hub. It is their gathering place. It is where they feel comfortable, accepted and not alone. It has become the center of their world.

The average person who lives in St. Petersburg does not congregate at Williams Park. Williams Park is not the place people go on Saturday or Sunday for a Picnic.

There are very few weddings in Williams Park.

The local politicians rarely make their announcements at Williams Park. There is no picture of Williams Park in the City's slick advertising material.

Those who would hold out Williams Park as the central hub for St. Petersburg are simply out of touch with reality.

In fact a good question for our friends over at St. Pete Polls would be "What's the name of the park in downtown St. Petersburg? Give three choices.

Maybe commercial development is to big a reach, but no amount of feeding programs, social workers, cops, paint, programs, villages or bus tickets out of town will change what Williams Park has become. And the downtown core and the current 4 block renaissance will not grow much larger until something changes at Williams Park.

One of the commenters mentioned the original Doc Webb, (Webb's City) we are not related, but share a similar family history as my family was also in the retail business.(Not nearly as successful as Webb's City).  I studied Doc Webb when I came to St. Pete. He was a master merchandiser.

Open of the interesting things about Webb's City and Doc's approach is when they tried something and it didn't work, they tried something new.

Three different Mayors, all reasonably intelligent, have struggled with the Williams Park issue and we are basically where we started.

It's simply time for a dialog with new ideas.

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

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Doc Webb's Bay Post February 22, 2013 at 12:48 AM
Actually, my granddaughter and I will get our long boards and come join you. It's a great idea.
MirrorLakeMan February 22, 2013 at 11:26 PM
First of all , it is The Peoples Park. If you don't like what kinds of people that frequent the park, then look in the mirror. Williams Park is a reflection of what is endemic and wrong with the current politics in the city. Try creating some jobs in the city (municipal jobs that anyone can do) and you'll notice that the quality of life around the park will improve. Address the problem of WHY you're not comfortable with the park and you'll find that social problems won't go away until everyone shares in the benefits of maintaining a nice park. It is a transit hub! Port Authority, in NYC, isn't the most vital place in NYC, but try doing without it. Keep a police presence on the perimeter of the park, and let the people do their thing. I am not afraid of the Park. I am afraid of the Police making the park a gulag of sorts. Williams Park can still be vibrant place if you get rid of your fear of "us" vs. "them". We are both!!
Adriano Luna February 22, 2013 at 11:47 PM
I completely agree. Another solution some students are for, is a meditation happening around one of the fountains to help promote peace and serenity.
Adriano Luna February 23, 2013 at 06:49 AM
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=215373025269603&set=a.171579566315616.40766.171274739679432&type=1&theater This is a link to a study shown that group meditation can help reduce crime rates.
paulwdudley April 27, 2013 at 09:52 AM
I don't know,say I'm reaching,I lived in St.Pete Florida for a number of years growing up,my older brother was in a hommonica band and they played in the Park,they had other things that the City put on,local bands played extra...,seems to me if we don't want the drugs and other stuff going on there,we need to step up and let them know they are not wanted there,At the depot don't they have Security Guards there,if not they have Citizens Patrol,I'm sure there are several people like myself that would ENJOY working with Police Department,I do realize the Police Department has better things to do as to run to Williams Park every time there's a dispute,or small problem(s),I guess what I'm trying to say if there is. more of a presence of enforcement they will bug out and try to congragate elsewhere,or give in to the fact people are not going to put up with their stuff,you GET CITIZENS. PATROL PRESENT,They will DISSIPATE,IT WILL DEFINITELY. SLOW DOWN,I'M JUST SAYING,TY

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