Cleanliness at E.B. Rains, Jr. Memorial Park is one issue, and safety is another, Northglenn City Council determined at a meeting July 12. City councilors have long heard complaints about the park …
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Cleanliness at E.B. Rains, Jr. Memorial Park is one issue, and safety is another, Northglenn City Council determined at a meeting July 12.
City councilors have long heard complaints about the park right across the street from City Hall. However, councilors realized in the July 12 meeting that they needed to categorize the different complaints to come up with different kinds of solutions.
“We are all acknowledging that there is a problem, we haven’t defined what the problem is, nor how to define it, nor on that level, how to solve it on so many different layers,” said Councilman Randall Peterson.
The first layer of issues are safety related ones. In 2020, the police department received 433 calls for service to the park. Ten percent of those calls resulted in a police report, meaning it was an incident that warranted a criminal charge, according to a staff presentation included in the July 12 meeting agenda. Ninety-one of the calls for service were labeled as “suspicious activity,” according to police reports included in the agenda packet. Very few calls were for guns, assaults or criminal mischief.
The other set of issues is related to cleanliness. There are regular complaints about dog feces and trash in the park, and needles on the playground. “A lot of people see E.B. Rains as the jewel of Northglenn and it may not look like that,” said Councilwoman Julie Duran Mullica.
Though the two issues can feel distinct, there is some overlap, said Mayor Meredith Leighty. “One of the things I want to caution is that sometimes it sounds dismissive that we have to convince people that it’s not an unsafe park. Our residents’ perception is their reality. So, if they feel unsafe being there, then it is in fact an unsafe park,” said Leighty.
Also, some solutions might address both sets of issues .. for example, capital improvements to park equipment and the grounds, such as flower beds. On the front end, the park will look cleaner, but it also might disincentivize some suspicious activity.
“If people see that things aren’t being take care of, even little things … there is a perception that nobody cares,” said Councilwoman Shannon Lukeman-Hiromasa.
To address the messiness, council talked about allocating more funding to the parks maintenance budget for staff to help with cleanup. Currently, the city has 14 total parks maintenance workers, said Amanda Peterson, director of parks, recreation, and culture.
To address safety concerns in the short term, council supported an increase in police presence. In the summer, police officers who are school resource officers during the school year, patrol the parks in town on bicycles. In the long term, council said they were open to ideas of extra lighting or cameras.
Council made no formal decisions on ideas that would require funding for which the city for has not budgeted, such as the lighting and cameras, or the additional parks maintenance staff.
Looking forward, though, Leighty said at the end of the discussion, “One thing that I didn’t hear from this group is a reluctance to spend money on this issue. I just didn’t hear it. This might not be an area where we need to tighten our belt.”
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