City Council votes on new Coolidge Park rules - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

City Council votes on new Coolidge Park rules

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By Greg Glover
Eyewitness News Anchor

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The City Council voted, overwhelmingly, to support the move by the Mayor and Police Chief that would keep those under the age of 18 out of Coolidge Park without adult supervision.

There are already a number of laws in the City Code aimed at teens, 11 PM curfew if your under 16 and no congregating or obstruction traffic on city streets.

Is another regulation the key to quelling violence like was seen this weekend in Coolidge Park?

"To simply say that this is only an ordinance issue whereby we create a sign on a pole that says if you're under 18, that's gonna get rid of the problem, I think we're deceiving ourselves," says Councilman Andrae McGary.

McGary was the lone holdout, voting against the proposal.

While Councilman Benson said "We're hemorrhaging at Coolidge Park" and Councilman Gilbert suggest a boot camp for offenders. McGary said the problem is much greater.

"Essentially we're saying, we keep the downtown safe, all other parts of the city, it's a gamble.  I think that's the wrong message to send," says McGary.

An unscientific poll of people enjoying a beautiful evening yields feelings on both sides.

"It definitely makes me feel better if there's adults accompanying the younger ones," said Stacy Campbell.  We stopped her mid-jog for her take on the issue.

Sarah Woody lives on the park perimeter.  "I think that they definitely need to make it safer," she added, "but that may not be the best way because, you know, teenagers can be trusted."

"Things like flash mobs can be avoided if they just like pay attention to people gathering in groups" Daniel Voigt said.  "Especially sketchy folk,"  .

Most of the gun violence at Coolidge Park has been committed by legal adults, in the 18 to 24 age bracket. The last shooting incident at the park was nearly a year ago.

"The message that we're sending as a council by passing this ordinance is that the problem is located at Coolidge.  The problem's not located at Coolidge, the problem's all over the city," said McGary.

Voigt agreed saying, "It's something that needs to be dealt with, but just in the right way instead of just, like, putting a ban on it."

The measure called the "Juvenile Supervision Ordinance" was approved 8 – 1 on first reading. It will be up for a second and final vote next week.

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