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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:

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. 

City Park

Protect the Parks

If your career is in Parks and Recreation, then you are most likely familiar with the NRPA Americans’ Engagement with Parks Survey which was released earlier this year.  The highlights suggest people enjoy the parks and want other people to enjoy the parks as well.  Having a park in the community is important to 9 out of 10 people.

 

The 2016 October NRPA article, Public Park Usage: Motives and Challenges, lists highlights worth noting.  Most of the key points focus on how often people visit the park and why.  Looking at the graph,  58% of the park users came to be with friends and family, and 52% visited to engage in some type of physical activity.  This may come as a surprise, but 3/4 of the people surveyed want more money spent on parks and recreation. Clearly, parks are important to people.  Parks increase the enjoyment of life and maybe even possibly the quality of life, which should be available to all people.

 

Unfortunately, some parks are targeted with graffiti and vandalism.  This causes concern for people who visit the park and the surrounding neighborhood.  Graffiti and vandalism bring down the enjoyment because it defaces the beauty of the park, but it also causes fear.  Parks that bear the burden of graffiti and vandalism lack the presence of security, which causes the park to no longer feel safe. In the same article mentioned above, personal safety was reported as a barrier to 17% of the people surveyed.  That means these people are not able to enjoy the park because of fears that they or the people they care about are not safe at the park.

 

Since parks are an important part of  quality life, it should be important to officials to safe guard the use of the parks for all communities and protect those who use them.  What are you doing to protect the parks?