Park Vandalism Hurts

Park Vandalism Hurts

Park Vandalism Hurts

Did you know one of the first parks built on public lands for public use was between 61 and 55 BCE? The Porticus Pompeiana, one of Ancient Rome’s first public parks was created with pools, fountains and plants of all kinds and was intended to be a space for people to walk, relax and enjoy leisure activities.  Today our public parks are created with the same mindset and to help bring communities and families together. Unfortunately, parks have become the victims of nuisance crimes such as: illegal dumping, theft, and especially vandalism.

Vandalism in the parks can take on many forms such as graffiti and the destruction of public property.  The least costly wreckage is the destruction of signs, but some more costly targets are streetlights, pavilions and public bathrooms, which can be very costly to repair.  Unfortunately, parks are a public attraction for vandalism.

Park Vandals are at times younger people who are bored and looking for mischief.  However, when vandalism occurs in parks, it is highly related to gangs within the community who are responsible for this crime. Gangs use graffiti to tag “their property” and to make rival gangs and the community aware of their “ownership”.  Park Officials who spend many hours in the planning and care for their parks need to take back the parks, because if the destruction either in the form of graffiti or vandalism remains long, it empowers the gangs to further violence.  The community, the intended recipients of the park, then becomes fearful to even walk close to the park.    

What does it mean to take back the park? To take back the park means to show the gangs that the park is not theirs, it is owned by the community.   

How to Prevent Park Vandalism:

Tools to Combat Illegal Dumping

Tools to Combat Illegal Dumping

Illegal Dumping is a national epidemic, disturbing people in the urban neighborhoods and the inner cities.  Waste sites attract and become a breeding ground for rodents and mosquitoes.  Both creatures can carry and transmit harmful diseases to humans.

It is important cities implement a program to prevent the hazards and blight illegal dumping causes.

Effective programs implement an enforcement part of the program and some cities generate revenue to offset the cost of illegal dump site cleanups.  For a city to be able to generate revenue, it must have strong legislation, communication and teamwork between city departments and tools to help the designated department get the job done.

Among many cities who have developed an illegal dumping program, California’s Department of Resources and Recovery (CalRecycle) has developed and provided a tool to help municipalities within California combat illegal dumping within their community.  Within the Enforcement part of the guide, there are four needed strong actions:

  • Staff Resources: Dedicated staff with training and authority to educate the public, respond and investigate illegal dumping complaints, which includes interviews and making arrests
  • Tools and Resources: Resources are paramount to helping the staff combat the illegal dumping problem, which should include:
    • Data management systems to locate and map hot spots
    • Hot lines to receive complaints about illegal dumping
  • Administrative Actions: An effective illegal dumping program must have Orders, Fines and an Administrative Law Judge, to handle major cases
  • Judicial Prosecution:  Illegal dumping programs need to have the ability to use the judicial process to determine guilt and obtain abatement.

Without a strong illegal dumping program and tools to implement the program, cities will continue to face the blight and community panic illegal dumping causes.

Protecting Park Equipment from Vandalism

Protecting Park Equipment from Vandalism

As the local Director or Manager of the community park, you know on any given afternoon the park is full of activity. Dogs catching Frisbees, couples strolling, and large picnic parties are all common activities taking place in the park. No park area is busier than that of the playground area.

The reasons for the bustle of activity on the playground are important ones; important for both the community in which the park resides, as well as the individual children themselves. The emotional and social benefits of the playground relieve children of anxiety and stress and encourage learning amongst each other. The use of playground equipment allows children to partake in unrestricted recreation known as “free play”. This “free play” offers an ideal opportunity for children to develop learning abilities and bond socially with one another. Physical activity at the playground also promotes a child’s general wellness and health.

Public playground equipment is anything but inexpensive, averaging a cost of anywhere between $8,000 to $150,000, depending on the quality of the equipment. The safety of high-quality playground equipment also plays a large roll when it comes to its price. 

Given its important roll to childhood development, playground equipment benefits our communities for generations to come, and thus, this investment must be protected. Damage sustained from things like vandalism or misuse can easily render playground equipment unusable and leave no creative outlet for a child’s energy and imagination to play freely. Vandalized equipment compromises the safety of children and has the ability to harm them both physically and emotionally. It’s incredibly disheartening for a child’s feeling of excitement to play, quickly turn to disappointment and malaise at learning that their local playground has been closed due to vandalism. 

Fortunately, there is a tool the helps protect the valuable equipment you have installed.  Portable cameras that can be customized for the park’s needs and strategically placed are very effective at stopping vandalism before it happens, therefore protecting the playground and preventing unnecessary closures due to repairs. 

Homeless Camps Attract Illegal Dumping and Blight

Homeless Camps Attract Illegal Dumping and Blight

Homelessness is becoming a concern in most parts of the United States.  A person without a stable home can be someone moving from motel to motel, or a car, or in some cases the streets.  Some people without homes have set up temporary shelters, like a tent or tarp.  There are even homeless communities, where there are groups of temporary shelters that can be seen in parks or lined up on streets.  While viewing a homeless camp is very sad, the conditions in these camps are hazardous, not just to the homeless but also to the surrounding community. 

According to a volunteer, who cleans up homeless camps, she finds illegal dumping and very hazardous conditions.  She has even come across dead bodies.   Trash, needles, and unsanitary disposal of waste is a breeding ground for rats, roaches, and other disease carrying critters.

Rats and other rodents carry dangerous diseases, which can be transmitted to human through contact with the feces or urine or breathing in airborne particles. Many people have heard about the Bubonic plague that killed hordes of people in the Middle Ages.  The Bubonic plague is just one of the life-threatening diseases that rodents can carry with them, which can infect a human if the rodent’s flea bites the human.

Within the piled-up trash, these rats multiply and invade the neighboring residents and businesses, causing a community panic. While this problem is very complex, and strategy requires legislation and empathy, there needs to be tools in place to help keep the homeless community from setting up a camp especially near parks and areas where children play. One such tool should be a portable camera that deters the activity and can be easily moved around. 

Portable cameras will help the officers and volunteers who are involved in these communities, while the legislators design a permanent solution.