Michael Rajner didn’t expect to see a man getting a blowjob. It was the middle of the afternoon, and he was at Colohatchee Park walking Gidget, a Yorkie-miniature Schnauzer mix.
But it was impossible to mistake what was happening on the park bench ahead of him: One man was on his knees, and the other one had his pants down.
Rajner, a 45-year-old Wilton Manors resident who chairs the Broward County Human Rights Board and is known for his activism on behalf of the LGBT community, was appalled. “I’m a gay man, and I’m not opposed to people, you know, expressing themselves,” he said. “It’s just that it’s a public park, and it’s right out there, right in your face.”
Since then, he’s been going to city commission meetings to demand that something
For the Wilton Manors Police Department, this has been a challenge for years. Back in 2006, officers began conducting undercover stings as part of Operation Get a
Currently, the department says it has three “action plans” for cracking down on illegal activity in the park, though Operations Commander Gary Blocker declines to divulge them. “Our agency does not view this as an LGBT issue,” he said. “We view this as a right-versus-wrong issue.”
So far this year, he added, police officers have made seven arrests at Colohatchee and issued 42 trespass warnings to individuals believed to be at the park “with ill intent.”
“If residents look at that information, it should show them that our agency is dedicated to improving the quality of life at the park,” he said.
Patrick Cann, the director of Wilton Manors’ Leisure Services Department, believes the solution is to get more people into the park — people who aren’t there for random, anonymous sex, that is. “We’re hoping to get more attendance and more participation from other interest groups,” he explained. After holding a focus group for residents earlier this month, the department came up with a master plan to add boat access, a fitness trail, and an expanded dog park.
Another solution is proposed by a Facebook commenter who says Colohatchee should simply become an “adult”
Of course, no one really wants to go on the record as a defender of sex in public parks.
Still, even in the age of Grindr, it doesn’t look like Colohatchee Park’s reputation will be changing anytime soon. In the meantime,
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.