PROBLEMATIC BEHAVIOR OR ACTIVITY
Prior to this lighting project, this particular community park was the site of several crimes, including arson, criminal mischief, public intoxication, and open containers. Over the last few years call logs and arrest records support the fact that the park was the site of frequent LEO contacts with people recently released from the county jail. Additionally, transients would sleep in the park and local juveniles would hide out and vandalize property at night. The City reported significant repair expenses due to criminal activities.
IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY
In a 2016 survey, community members expressed concerns with safety in the park and a desire to have the park cleaned up to encourage legitimate uses. From the perspective of CPTED, a possible contributing factor to illegitimate uses of the park was that the park had no lights.
In partnership with the city, light fixtures were added to the park and broken lights were replaced, improving nighttime visibility and, in turn, security. With the increase in park usage, the city removed and cleared old shrubs and trees which blocked visibility of the park. Now as the local citizens drive by, at any time, you can see the dog park and all parts of 5th Street Park.
The receipt of the grant had a positive domino effect. When the city heard a grant had been received for lights, a gazebo was built to provide an area for families, children, and local groups to use for activities. The gazebo continues to be often used by park-goers for reading or for a quick shelter from the rain. A motion sensor light was added to allow lighting for activities that took place after dusk.
BASED ON RESEARCH
This project was funded by a micro-grant from DPSST’s Center for Policing Excellence. Additionally, the City of Coquille took on the expenses for the labor and cost of electricians to install the light fixtures.
On this project, the desired results were immediately noticed once the lights were installed. In 2018 local law enforcement has only had four calls for service at the park. Three of them involved Juvenile contacts that had no criminal outcome. The fourth contact was a dog complaint with the dog park. During patrol checks, officers have not come across any squatters or intoxicated transients. This alone has increased the usage of the park by families and children.
Based on surveys, word of mouth, and call logs, the updates to the park have increased safety and comfort for the local citizens in the community. The neighbors across the street report someone using the park during all business hours - from kids playing, to adults having meetings, reading books, or even family BBQs, and birthday parties. The neighboring residents reported feeling more comfortable living next to the park. One resident even mentioned they believed they parked seemed safer for the local police officers conducting patrol checks at night since the entire park is now illuminated.
In conclusion, this project aimed to make a safe place for families to use and encourage urban renewal in this forgotten part of town. In turn, this project has sparked other community organizations to assist and help fix parts of the park. Soon the park will have new basketball hoops, refurbished tennis court, and possibly a splash pad put in for usage during the summer time
CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS AND LESSONS LEARNED
Initially this project ran into some delays due to no local businesses having the equipment we wanted for this project. However, having the grant allowed us to take time and find quality resources outside of our immediate area. But once I was able to secure a company from Salem to do this project, it took off smoothly. It took several reconfigurations to find what worked best.