Crime blamed on dark park

19:40, Aug 07 2012
SHINE A LIGHT: Rosehill Community residents, from left Jo Stenning, John Bright and Daphne Walters.

John Bright's been burgled six times in the past 14 years.

It's a fair bet that most of the burglars jumped over the stretch of his fence that runs along Papakura's Marybeth Reserve.

Bright has since added surveillance and says he feels safer since the council removed several houses and opened up the park so it's visible from the street.

A basketball court, skate bowl and flying fox have been added to the park which is getting plenty of use from local kids, but Bright claims there are still problems there at night.

Since the upgrade Bright has been assaulted in the park - the culprits were caught and apologised - and underwear and bottles often litter the ground in the mornings.

Members of the Rosehill Community Group blame a lack of lighting for the problems. The only illumination comes from street lights.

Bright, who used to work for a power company, claims one 20-metre-tall four-way spotlight in the centre of the park would put paid to unsavoury activity. He estimates the light would cost about $20,000.

Auckland Council said some residents don't want a light added.

Bright acknowledges the lights could draw more children to the park at night but ''at least you can see what they're doing, and it would make the kids safer''.

''The view of the residents that I've spoken with is that lighting should be there so we can see what's going on.''

Jo Stenning has lived in Rosehill for three years and her children are regular users of the flying fox and playground.

She said ''just a couple of things'' need improving at the park. Flooding has become an issue
during winter and residents now refer to the park as the ''Marybeth Marshlands''.

Council parks manager Mark Bowater said contractors are working to resolve the ponding issues by backfilling the soil so it drains properly. The work is expected to be completed this month.

The council is also extending the combined basketball court and skate bowl, he said.

But lighting for the park was ''never included in the original design'' and it's not on the cards.

''While some residents have asked for some to be installed, others don't think it is necessary.''

Bowater said any decision on lighting will be up to the Papakura Local Board.

The reserve's official opening will be celebrated with a community fun day in October.


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