Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

April 14, 2013

Keep out!

Enforce the law; don’t fence in the planters

It has been said that some fences are built to keep people in, and some fences are built to keep people out.

It also has been said — by a prosecuting attorney, no less, who was speaking entirely tongue-in-cheek to an overzealous subordinate — that the Bill of Rights is a pesky thing that sometimes gets in the way of what you want to do. (Which, we would add, is the reason the Founding Fathers created it in the first place.)

Action is being taken to install temporary wooden railings around the downtown mall’s planters as a means of discouraging loiterers.

The idea of using decorative Victorian-style metal railings that would fit in with the downtown’s architecture was dismissed on grounds it would create a “jailed-in appearance.”

As we said, fences around jails and prisons are built to keep people in; the intent of these wooden fences is to keep people out.

Loitering, bad language, offensive behavior and the like have been an issue ever since part of Baltimore Street was closed off and turned into the downtown mall.

No one disputes that, or the detrimental impact these things have on the downtown’s businesses or citizens who find reason to visit the mall.

One thing to consider is that the mall has become a gathering place for such things as entertainment, art-related activities, car displays, the Heritage Festival and the farmer’s market.

People who attend these events, and tourists, frequently sit on these planters to relax or enjoy the proceedings because there aren’t enough conventional seating arrangements.

Railings around the planters will keep them from doing so, and they may decide to go someplace else — particularly those who are elderly or infirm and need to sit down.

Laws that do not violate provisions of the Bill of Rights exist when it comes to deterring offensive behavior. The city has code-enforcement officers who work closely with Cumberland Police to prevent violations of the law and city codes.

Strict and consistent enforcement of these laws is the answer, not fence-building.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift

    While your April 17 article (“Park Service opens Canal classrooms,” Page 1A) described this exciting program accurately, your readers may be wondering how they can help support this new educational opportunity for school children in Allegany County.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ivan Hall story brings back memories of a unique man

    I enjoyed Mike Sawyers’ Ivan Hall story. It was well written and brought back some wonderful memories of my Cumberland days and especially, an unique man.

    April 18, 2014

  • It’s a secret It’s a secret

    Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
    A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • What do we do about those who weren’t criminals after all?

    Now that Maryland has become the 17th state to (finally) decriminalize possession of marijuana, one could say that the legislature and governor should be patted on the back for doing the right thing.

    April 17, 2014

  • The first step The first step

    If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Translations differ, but the message is eternal

    This letter is in response to a recent letter titled “One cannot compromise on God’s word” (April 13 Times-News). I had previously written a letter titled “Why are compromises so difficult to achieve” (April 7).

    April 15, 2014

  • Closing the loopholes will help clear the regulatory waters

    After a decade of uncertainty over Clean Water Act jurisdiction following Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced a forthcoming administrative rule to close enforcement loopholes, restoring protections to 20 million acres of wetlands, more than half the nation’s streams, and drinking water for 117 million Americans.

    April 15, 2014

  • The first step Remember where your freedom comes from before criticizing

    The deal at Fort Hood could have been avoided if it was caught in time.
    When you think a GI is not acting right, have him or her checked out before you put them back on duty and give them a weapon. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious and dangerous problem if it is not taken care of right away.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where to look Where to look

    Drive anywhere in Maryland and it seems there is one highway construction project after another. While it is good to see our roads and bridges being upgraded, it can be nerve-wracking for anyone traveling a long distance.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Midterm elections give chance to return to American values

    A movement has been started by veterans of our armed forces to get out the vote in 2014. That includes Coast Guard and Merchant Marine personnel for those not familiar with the history of both and their sacrifice. This is no small special interest  group, but many millions of Americans who can have an enormous impact on the  outcome of the November election if they all respond.

    April 14, 2014