Manchester has a city park — Bronstein Park — that is both a public park and officially part of the Manchester High School Central campus. Since the city noted an increase in use of “spice” (a form of potpourri that some people smoke to get a high) in the park and other misbehavior, Mayor Ted Gatsas has said the park should be closed to the public from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days. That would be overkill.
City staff say the park has been the scene of spice overdoses and aggressive behavior toward maintenance staff. Central students use the park for some school activities, and as a lunch hangout.
We see no reason for the whole park to be closed to the public during the school day. There are better, less burdensome remedies for the problems that are occurring there.
If the problem is that people are smoking spice or other drugs, then the city can ban smoking in the park.
If the problem is thuggish behavior, then the city can beef up police patrols.
The park is not adjacent to Central. It was designated a part of the campus so the city could claim the school was “green.” Basically, it is a city park used frequently by Central students, rather than a part of the school campus. The city should not use the school’s connection to the park as an excuse to close it to the public.
Citizens have a right to assemble and speak in public places. Curfews in public spaces can be justified in limited circumstances, but this does not seem to be one of them. It would be less burdensome on nearby residents for the city to increase police patrols than to ban the public from a public park.