The problem with the new park passes

By Micheal Hartt, Page Editor

Sitting by the pool and having fun with friends was just one of the few things that I enjoyed doing during the summer when I was younger, and doing it with my friends from Harper Woods made it all the more fun.

But, with the newly implemented policy going into effect this spring, children above 8 years old have to get a photo on their park ID. With this revisioned policy, residents of Grosse Pointe Woods will no longer be able to enjoy the facilities at the Grosse Pointe Woods Public Park with their friends from Harper Woods as often, because the act of sharing park passes will no longer be possible.

I don’t like this new park pass policy. Let me tell you why.

The creation of the new policy was put into motion after incidents were reported at the Grosse Pointe Woods Park. Many non-residents were using park passes to gain entry, and also caused property damage and assaulted park employees. It is important to note, however, that there have been equally unsettling incidents involving property damage from residents who have their own park passes.

My concern stretches beyond the basic summer get-together. It worries me that children from Harper Woods that are in the Grosse Pointe Public Schools would not be able to hang out with their friends from Grosse Pointe as regularly. This could result in children from Harper Woods that are in GPPSS feeling left out of activities with their friends all summer long.

A solution to the problem would be to allow homeowners in Harper Woods that live within GPPSS boundaries to buy park passes for a set amount, or for the average amount that Grosse Pointe Woods taxpayers pay in taxes to the park.

This would allow for people in Harper Woods that live within the GPPSS and pay taxes for the GPPSS to fairly purchase park passes and assure that their children will not be excluded from activities in Grosse Pointe city parks.

Also, it is important to note the alarming privacy concerns that could arise once the city of Grosse Pointe Woods has photographs of almost every citizen in the area. People’s pictures and personal information could be used for different purposes, or even be stolen. The city could use the pictures in conjunction with a photo identification software and security cameras to identify citizens movements in Grosse Pointe Woods without their consent. Or, if the photographs were left in an unsecured database, hackers could potentially access and sell them on the dark web resulting in the creation of fake IDs.

Although these security threats may seem like a stretch, similar incidents have happened in our own backyard.

During the Summer of 2016, hackers accessed personal information such as pictures, telephone numbers and full names through the Archdiocese of Detroit’s database of teachers who taught at Catholic schools in the area. The stolen information was believed to have been sold on the dark web.

While these incidents occur around us, it is important that we don’t minimize the possible threats photo ID’s raise. These are factors that need to be taken into consideration, especially before stripping citizens from their recreational freedoms.

The next step for the Grosse Pointe Woods City Council should be to find a solution that addresses the security concerns of the city, while only keeping necessary information and allowing non-residents into the park. Totally excluding Harper Woods residents, who attend the same schools as Grosse Pointers, from the park is the wrong solution to a minor problem, and the proposed solution has more issues than it solves.