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Residents want park lit up

ANNA LOREN
Last updated 05:00 17/07/2012
mangere residents

DARK DAYS: From left: Residents Nick Bakulich, Bharti Patel, Lutisone Leavasa, Nekyta Letiu, Nele Letiu and Melvin Leavasa say unlit footpaths at Williams Park in Mangere are causing massive problems for their community.

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Burglaries, smashed glass and the noise of drunken fighting are par for the course for anyone who lives near Williams Park.

Now the Mangere residents are calling on local authorities to make their future a little brighter.

They've started a petition asking for lighting to be installed along the park's footpaths.

The park hasn't had functioning lighting for as long as many residents can remember. It is a magnet for large groups of drinkers who scare residents by smashing bottles and yelling loudly.

Lights were installed when State Highway 20 was built many years ago but they were vandalised within a matter of weeks.

Melvin Leavasa has lived beside the park for the past 22 years and says the short time they were up was a godsend for locals who flocked to the park to keep fit and relax with their families.

But now they stay inside after dark, afraid to confront the drinkers for fear of attack.

"It's so dark we actually can't see how many people there are - we can hear them, they're close enough, but we can't see them," Mr Leavasa says.

"It's only in the morning when we see all the broken glass and empty boxes that we can guess how many people there were."

The lack of lighting has also raised serious security risks for the Manukau Rovers Rugby Club whose grounds border the park.

In November 2006, local man Tolo Magele Pelenise Tofa was stabbed to death in the park after visiting the rugby club.

Club secretary Barry George says the club has also been burgled "quite a few times" with the most recent one just a few weeks ago.

Residents are too afraid to walk through the park in the evenings. They stick to the main arterial routes instead, he says.

"And with more tourists around from the airport hotels, it's just not a good look."

Residents have now formed a group calling on the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board to "Light Up Williams Park".

They will present a petition to the board at its next meeting on July 25 and ask it to install functional lights along the footpaths that lead into the park.

Adequate lighting will improve safety and "allow people the confidence to use the paths for recreational use", group spokesman Nick Bakulich says.

The group has received 100 per cent support from the residents it has approached, he says.

Deputy board chairwoman Christine O'Brien says it was not previously aware of the issue but is looking forward to hearing the group's submission.

Anyone wanting to add their name to the petition can do so at the Manukau Rovers Rugby Club or the Idlewild Ave Superette.

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- Manukau Courier

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