I certainly believe that there should be places for younger people to go and hang out, but I'm just not sure Westport is it. Westport is more or less designed as a bar district, so the clientele should be at least of drinking age, in my opinion.
When I came to Kansas City about two years ago, Westport was awesome. Everyone was well-mannered, and all were there to have a good time. There were not many police around, because there wasn't a need for any. Now, just two years later, it seems like it's become a madhouse. There has even been a shooting. That used to never happen. People are being arrested for being in Westport with weapons and drugs. That's not exactly the kind of entertainment area the majority of Kansas City residents want to be a part of.
The last time I went to Westport, I was with a group of four women and one other gentleman. We went to Harpo's for a couple of hours, and when we left, we had to walk through huge crowds of predominantly black males while we were trying to get to our car. We basically had to force our way through the crowd, me in the front and one male at the rear with the four women in between us scared out of their minds. I'm all for partying and having a good time, but these guys shouted obscene names, attempted to grope the women, and I almost had my wallet taken from me. This may be an isolated incident, and with the new police force in place, it may now be a much safer area, but that night it certainly was not.
I feel most sorry for the businesses in that area. It used to be such a nice place to go on a Friday or Saturday night, but now, I don't choose to go anywhere near the place.
-- Name Withheld Upon Request
Great, she kicked off her career as a political radical by getting arrested for defending her right to cut through a parking lot. Abbie Hoffman would be proud. On the scale of oppression it doesn't quite compare to being forced to sit in the back of the bus or having to use a separate water fountain.
-- Doug Rinehart
Kansas City, Missouri
This comment is from one visit to New Orleans and conversations with a small sampling of the locals there, but from my limited exposure and conversations, there seemed to be a sensitivity to large-crowd behavior in an atmosphere similar to Westport.
Maybe KC just needs to designate an area where crowds and open drinking is permitted.
-- Lonnie Smith
There is a pay phone at the park; it is over by the ball fields. All the regulars know this and will tell anyone who asks. Additionally, in today's world, there is almost always someone there who has a cell phone (kids included) and will let someone use it if needed.
With regards to the graffiti, most of the tags are quite artistic in nature. Some of them have to do with bands the kids listen to, others with companies whose business is Rollerblading, skateboarding, or freestyle bikes. There are a few that are in poor taste, but just like with anything in today's world you have those few who create a bad impression for everyone associated with the sport.
Yes, I classify what these kids and adults do as a sport. If you spend any amount of time at PVSP, you will see some very talented riders, bladers, and boarders. They do stunts and tricks you would not believe. The ages of these talented riders range from as young as 8 years old to others over 30. They have a commitment to their sport just as others do to baseball, football, or soccer.
Her comment about kids smoking and "if they're smoking they have to be doing pot," shows how easily Ms. De Shon jumps to conclusions about something without knowing the facts. Yes, there are young kids smoking cigarettes at PVSP, and I have seen some smoking pot, which I called the police about. However, the majority of the riders are not smoking potheads, as she would make them all out to be.
My son and his friends have supported this park from day one. There is hardly a week that goes by that they are not at the park riding. We come down from Smithville to the park. He has met other riders from all over the metro who come there to ride and share a mutual interest in their sport. He always goes well-prepared for a day of riding. Some of the older riders who drive make runs for drinks and food throughout the day, and they all look out for each other. You wonder at times how so many people can be in the confines of PVSP and not have more injuries. It's because they look out for one another and show respect toward each other.
The PVSP is a great place for kids and adults to ride. If you want to watch some very talented riders, bladers, or boarders, spend an afternoon at PVSP and you will be amazed at what you see. I know I am every time I take my son there.
-- Doug Cirricione