Recently we've been wondering if the West Village was falling back into bad old days trends and today the Post makes the argument that in fact it is Union Square ("Methadone Alley"!) that is slipping back into old habits. As if last summer's giant pot plant in the park wasn't a big enough sign?

The tabloid argues that addicts have been creating a "lawless city within a city" in the popular park where they can be found "overdosing on drugs and committing crimes ranging from stabbings to exposing themselves." Specifically neighbors and the police are concerned about the row of benches along Union Square East which Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates calls "a horror show that's been going on far too long." Meanwhile Preschool teacher Jenn Murphy is pissed about "The language they use...and sometimes they try to talk to the kids." At least those same kids don't have to worry about that too-hot playground anymore!

The paper does make a good case that crime in the park is on the rise, with recent incidents including a 28-year-old man who was stabbed three times in the back by a racist 50-year-old in April, a flasher who was busted in the women's bathroom, a thirty-something woman who overdosed in the park in March, a 56-year-old dealer who was caught last week with more than two ounces of pot and 'shrooms, and somebody even stole the glasses off of Gandhi! This year alone the NYPD has made 84 drug-related arrests in the square.

In response to the uptick in crime, the NYPD has promised to step up patrols and the BID has agreed to hire extra off-duty officers. We have noticed that the East Side of the park can be a bit grimy of late, but didn't pay it much mind. Have you been aware of an increased criminal element in Union Square?