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Connecting Park Departments to Community Efforts

An article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer describes efforts in that city between residents and the parks department to make their parks better places.

In March, more than 100 people packed a room at the Lake City Library, concerned about violent crime and persistent drug deals in the area. The neighborhood’s Little Brook Park had been nicknamed Little Beirut by neighbors and some law enforcement sources.

Boykins, boyfriend Aram Westergreen and others organized potlucks in the park on the second Saturday of each month. Their roommates helped out, as did their former apartment manager. A friend who speaks Spanish volunteered to make calls to non-English speaking neighbors.

Neighborhood grocery stores have donated hot dogs and buns. The Lake City Pony Express chipped in with free copies for fliers.

“People are realizing there are others who care and people are talking about the park a little differently now,” Boykins said. “The parks department has really been helping us with the money aspect of it and the emotional part of it, too, when we can’t figure out how to get things.

“They’ve been great mentors.” When people such as Westergreen and Boykins contact the parks department with concerns about a park needing activities, they’re directed to the community parks coordinator. “There are a whole bunch of different tools we may use depending on the location,” Iverson said.

The parks department, through its parks coordinator, has provided small grants to local groups, film equipment to show outdoor movies and worked with residents to identify particular problem spots within parks to concentrate efforts.

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