The Washington Post

What do dog poop, gazebo sex, and a children’s playground have in common?


(Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

“NIMBY” is the well-known acronym that stands for “not in my back yard” and signifies opposition to new development or construction located near one’s home or neighborhood.  Scholars have documented NIMBY politics with regard to such things as nuclear power plants and hazardous waste treatment plants.

But now a new menace is coming to the Friendship Heights neighborhood of Bethesda, Md., something far more terrifying than hazardous waste: a children’s playground.  Bethesda Now reporter Aaron Kraut had the good fortune to attend the most recent meeting of the Friendship Heights Council:

Residents of the Village of Friendship Heights walked up to the microphone to warn of increased alcohol use, decreasing property values and even sexual activity if the proposal were to be approved.

“Honestly, you’d believe we’re building a casino in Friendship Heights,” resident Ryan Mooney said.

The proposal that had so many residents bothered at a Village Council meeting on Monday night wasn’t for a casino. It was for a kids playground and a gazebo in a mostly empty park at 4623 North Park Ave.

Let us delve into the horrors of this proposed playground. First, the playground will fail to stop dogs from pooping:

“You’ve attempted to justify the park with some strange things,” 4620 North Park resident Paula Durbin told the Council. “Converting the park to a playground will not get rid of dog poop.”

Maybe the playground will bring hazardous waste after all! Then there’s the proposed gazebo.  You know what those are good for, right?

“Finally, sex in the park. People have sex in the park,” Durbin said. “Just get the gazebo in there and you’re really going to have sex in the park.”

And people having sex in a gazebo surrounded by dog poop means what? Plummeting home values!

“With all due respect, I’m also very familiar with real estate and investment,” a resident of the Willoughby later said. “Location, location, location. In order to get anyone in the residence, you have to get curb appeal. A tot park will take away from curb appeal.”

Somehow, the Council saw fit to approve the park with a 5-1 vote despite these concerns.  Living as I do just mile or two from this Friendship Heights park, I can only pray that the scourge this playground will bring doesn’t end up in, well, my back yard.

John Sides is an Associate Professor of Political Science at George Washington University. He specializes in public opinion, voting, and American elections.

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