Police, Residents Working To Reclaim Park For Children

November 26, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

It is a small, triangle-shaped park that has police concerned and residents upset. Trash and beer bottles litter the ground, and occasionally, condoms and used syringes can be found in the grass.

The park, which serves as a playground for children living in a community of191 town houses in Crofton, could be an ideal place to play.

But all too often, residents say, they pick up broken glass and find used syringes.

"We've always had problems," said Adam H. Johnson, the property manager for the development, known as Crofton RegimeFive. "But we really had problems in the last two years. The bottom line is, we simply have to do something."

Doing something means getting lights installed in the park, which officials hope will drive away teen-agers who hang out there.

"If you were going to do something illegal and there was light all over the place and people could look at you through their windows at 2:30 in the morning, you aren't going to do it," Johnson said.

Johnson, along with Crofton Town Manager Jordan Harding and Dolores Rottmann, a county community servicesspecialist, toured the park last week.

The park -- off Whitfield Court near Crofton Parkway, across from the Crofton Country Club -- is bordered on three 200-foot sides by the backs of town houses. It issecluded, but has five exits.

On the visit last week, the three officials found trash bags pulled from bins, leaving garbage on the ground, and broken beer bottles strewn about near a merry-go-round. Oneresident said the swings are routinely wrapped around the top pole, leaving them out of reach of children.

The park is on two plateausand offers many routes of escape, making arrests difficult for police. Compounding the problem is the lighting.

An officer entering the park near its main entrance is silhouetted by the street light. People in the park can see the officer before the officer can see them -- and that concerns the police. "Some are nervous about checking it out in the dark," Harding said.

Deborah Bogush, the police chief for Crofton, said her officers requested additional lights, but said they routinely patrol the area and have no qualms about venturing into the park.

County officials have promised to cooperate, and Johnsonsaid his company will pay for new lights.

In the meantime, Johnson said he is busy fielding complaints from home owners. He said one 7-year-old boy is scared to leave his home because he is taunted by the disruptive youths. Another 5-year-old boy found a used condom and brought it home.

"He thought it was a balloon," said the boy's mother. "It didn't work so he threw it in the garbage."

The mother, who asked that her name not be used because she has called the police many times on the offending youths, said she would like to use the park with her son, but doesn't want to start explaining syringes and condoms to her 5-year-old.

"We are secluded here," she said. "The people come here and can do anything. We call the police, but they ask, 'What are they doing?'"

A tree blocks her view of the park, but she said she hears the voices loud and clear.

She said she understands police may be scared to enter the park, but added, "How do you think I feel as a resident?"

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