Effort to take back city park appreciated

Steps were taken, including piping in classical music, to drive out the illicit activity at Heritage Park on Main Street.

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Who knew that 18th century composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven would be 21st-century crime fighters?

No, the masters of classical music have not come alive to don capes like Batman and Robin, but their music — and the music of other classical composers — is nevertheless being used in Walla Walla to keep a lid on illicit activity.

This unorthodox approach to deterring bad behavior is just one of the steps taken by the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, at the urging of police and merchants, to clean up Heritage Park on Main Street.

This effort is inspired. It’s a cost-effective approach to preventing problems and making the downtown space more usable for local people as well as tourists.

“The park had a growing reputation as stoner park, with drug deals going on in broad daylight and convenient hiding places for illicit activity,” said Jennifer Northam of the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation. “So our hope was to take away from those opportunities to make the park a more inviting place for the general public and for families.”

The first action taken was to clear away objects used to obscure the illegal transactions. City crews removed a number of shrubs that blocked the view from Main Street to the back of the park. A wheelchair access ramp was removed because it provided a place to hide.

Then classical music was also added to the park. The Foundation had requests from three surrounding businesses to pipe classical music into the park. This is done effectively in other cities, including Portland. The music will be on from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. daily. It will cost the Foundation just $4 a month.

And the best part is the park seems to be getting more use by citizens and tourists as the illegal activities have diminished. The downtown park is on its way to once again becoming a public park.

The police, city Parks Department, merchants and the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation took positive action to solve a community problem. Great job.

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