Olivia Belcher 2.11.2019
Locked in memories can no longer be re-visited on Scenic Drive in El Paso. I’m sure many of us locals have driven up the windy road to Murchison Rogers Park to overlook the beautiful El Paso city lights. It wasn’t long before we started to mimic France’s Pont des Arts bridge by placing padlocks on the hand railing of the outlook staircase. The main point of this is to commemorate relationships and special moments with loved ones. I myself had a padlock there that I placed with my boyfriend. We loved re-visiting the lock to remember our commitment and seeing more locks on top of ours was great.
About a month ago, we drove up Scenic to see our lock again, but to my great disappointment, each and every lock that had been removed. To keep how I felt about this to a minimum, I felt very sad and sort of robbed of a memorial location that is special to my life.
I started thinking to myself, what if someone had placed a lock there with someone who has passed away and that was a very special place for the surviving loved one to visit and feel close to that person who is no longer there. I know the act in itself is probably considered defacement to city property, but if it was not harming the safety of the visitors or the structural soundness of the stairs, I see no reason as to why the locks were removed.
I can see why the locks on the Pont des Arts bridge have to be removed because the bridge is holding people above a body of water and all the extra weight was making it start to break, but I didn’t quite understand what the issue was at Scenic.
I had previously heard and seen some plans to renovate Murchison Rogers Park, but no advancements towards that have been made, and I wonder if the city even considered whether citizens would be hurt by this action.
Steve Lunsford, the Land Management Superintendent for the El Paso Parks and Recreation Department, said “It was determined that they are not part of the standard park equipment and they were making the rails unstable due to the excess weight. Because of this, they were removed.”
The weight of the locks creating a safety issue is understandable and it is unfortunate that they couldn’t withstand the extra weight.
I looked for a possible announcement about the locks being removed to see if people had the chance to get their lock prior, but Lunsford said “No, there was not any public announcement. Please keep in mind, that the locks were originally placed there without any permission.”
It is sad to know that the lock I placed with my boyfriend has been disposed of, but I can’t imagine how others who may not have that person anymore feel. I know public safety is very important and the city was not wrong for removing them, I just wish they had given everyone an opportunity to remove their locks themselves, regardless of whether they were placed with or without permission.
There should be a spot that is designated by the city the allows people to safely place padlocks, that way our parks stay safe and citizens can have a place to commemorate special moments.