(Photo from the movie set Field of Dreams)
A few months ago a group of about a dozen teenagers started clearing brush and debris off of a vacant city owned lot in Greenwhich, NY. They managed to fill three dumpsters with overgrown vegetation, some of which included poison ivy, as well as an assortment of trash that had been discarded over the years. They did this on their own too. No big earth day type of movement or anything fancy like that, and what's more is that the costs for the disposal bins came out of their own pockets.
Sounds pretty noble so far doesn't it? OK, they did have an ulterior motive behind their actions. Seems they were bored and wanted a place where they could play Whiffle Ball. (Similar to Baseball, but played with a plastic ball and a broom stick or a skinny plastic bat) Rather than vegetate in front of the TV playing video games or find some type of mischief elsewhere to engage in, they came up with the idea to turn an unused lot into their own field of dreams.
For the next three weeks they worked and cleaned the area then cut baselines and even built a 12' replica of the "Green Monster" (outfield fence) like the one at the Boston Red Sox home field. They hung an American flag on one side and a banner from Taco Bell on the other depicting some type of frozen drink they sell. The reason for the banner is that if a batter hits a home run, then the pitcher who gave it up must buy him one of these treats.
This was some good ole' fashioned, clean fun when it started, but then as the new play area became more popular, the surrounding neighbors started to complain...loudly. They (the boys through their actions) were creating parking issues, they hadn't obtained the proper permits to build this field, there were no public restrooms on site, no handicap access, it was too noisy, and probably the biggest complaint was the old liability card. Who would be responsible in case there was an accident?
Oh, did I mention that the lot has an estimated value of $1.25 million? Obviously the neighbors who are doing the complaining are also whining about how this "eyesore" is going to bring down their property values.
Egad, all this because a handful of kids wanted a place where they could hang out and play. I know there are valid arguments to both sides of the story here, but what have we come to as a society when we place more value on a piece of dirt and weeds than our youth?
What do you think should happen? Should the kids be allowed to continue playing or should the city force them to shut it down?