Sunday, November 11, 2001

Adult escorts required at Levee

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Northern Kentucky's entertainment complex has set some boundaries for its younger patrons to ensure a calm environment.

        Newport on the Levee has adopted a conduct code that prevents children under 16 from visiting the new entertainment complex after 8 p.m. without an adult accompanying them.

        This makes the complex the first shopping area in the Tristate to have such an explicit policy, but not the first in the nation.

  Newport on the Levee's code states specifically:
  After 8 p.m., children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who is 21 years of age or older.
  Youths under age 16 may attend a movie after 8 p.m. without a parent or guardian, provided they proceed directly to the AMC theater ticket booth and go directly to the theater level after buying the ticket. When the movie is over, youths must proceed to a drop-off and pick-up area.
  Inline skates, skateboards, bicycles and scooters are not allowed.
  Since the shops at Newport on the Levee close at 10 p.m., the under-16 policy only affects a three-hour span. Newport's citywide teen curfew starts at 11 p.m.
        The parental escort policy is intended to discourage large gatherings of teen-agers, said David Wechsler, a vice president with Steiner and Associates, the Levee developer.

        “We're keyed in to kids, ages 13-17,” Mr. Wechsler said.

        “A lot of the shops at the Levee are geared to that age group. It would be foolish for us to discourage young people from coming. Our goal is to have a friendly, safe environment.”

        Not surprisingly, the parental escort policy didn't sit well with some Highlands High School students who have visited the Levee several times.

        “It doesn't make a lot of sense to me,” said 16-year-old Ross Hassman of Fort Thomas. “I'm 16 and I can stay here after 8, but my 15-year-old friends need someone over 21 with them.”

        The Highlands High School sophomore said it made no difference during the school year because he wouldn't be at the Levee that late on school nights.

        “But I don't think it's a good idea for the weekends,” he added.

        The uncomfortable feeling many adults experience when in contact with large groups of teen-agers is a perception that has been around for a long time, according to Northern Kentucky University social work professor Willie Elliott.

        “People make themselves uncomfortable about kids' behavior,” said Mr. Elliott, the father of a 13-year-old daughter.

        “They are demanding that kids act like adults rather than kids, and then hold the kids responsible for their feelings. It's a nationwide thing. It reflects the generation gap played out in behavior at the malls.”

        He said he believes the problem will persist “as long as there are adults and kids interacting.”

        The Levee's policy is nearly identical to one in effect since 1996 at the giant Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., and is fairly common around the country, according to an international shopping center group.


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