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Editorial: Camera an investment for park on Ninth Street

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FOR a relatively small city park, the one at Ninth Street has been getting a lot of attention in recent days.

City officials are now considering a plan to install a surveillance camera at the park in an effort to reduce crime in the neighborhood.

The estimated cost of the equipment is $4,500, but that would be a small amount compared to a sense of security that officials hope the surveillance equipment would provide to residents of the area.

One of the issues still to be worked out is how to protect the equipment from the kind of vandalism that neighbors have come to take for granted. Vandalism is not the only crime police and residents are concerned about. The area has also been the scene for fights and loitering.

Although the park has had its difficulties, it also has had its champions who have worked tirelessly to rid the area of unwelcome elements.

In many respects, the park is a grass-roots product in which neighbors have pitched in to develop a space where families, especially children, would feel comfortable gathering.

One of those grass-roots efforts surfaced in 1993 when two residents of the neighborhood — Terry Anderson and Jackie Combest — spearheaded a drive to clean up and protect the small park. They were joined by city officials, especially representatives of the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, in giving the space a sense of comfort and security.

Unfortunately, it has been difficult to maintain that quality of life.

City officials responded to concerns of area residents in recent weeks with the police department taking the lead through increased special patrols designed specifically to target the neighborhood. Police Chief Jason Maddix told the Board of Works that his officers had conducted 283 extra patrols over the space of a three-month period.

Maddix also noted one other statistic that signals both the extent of the problem and the optimism that security issues can be resolved.

He said that in the same three-month time period for the extra patrols, police responded to 26 calls for service regarding incidents at the park.

While that number could be a confirmation of the seriousness of the problem, it can also be seen as evidence that neighbors are working with police in keeping an eye on the area and reporting problems when they arise.

That kind of cooperation is essential in bringing a total sense of security to the neighborhood and maintaining it in the future.

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