Park safety campaign paying off

Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross, left, and Tarnica Park residents Maxine and Gordon Luke are pleased their efforts to make the park safer are gaining traction. Photo supplied. 

A community campaign to increase safety at a dangerous east Auckland park is finally making progress.

Residents who live near Tarnica Park in Northpark, led by local man Gordon Luke, have been working for months supported by Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross to stop young people from engaging in anti-social activity at the park.

They previously presented a petition to the local board in March that calls for lights and a security camera to be installed at the park and have addressed the board’s members with Mr Ross twice.

A group of the residents and Mr Ross met at the local board room at Pakuranga Library for 90 minutes last Saturday with board members and a council officer to talk about the problems and find a solution.

Mr Luke said there’s been two stabbings at the park and people have been verbally abused there.

“We’ve had two fires at the park. We have graffiti at the park and we’ve had rubbish dumped there.

“We want to do something to make this park safer for our kids and for everyone who uses that walkway [through the park] into Botany.”

A lengthy discussion ensued about how many times residents had phoned police to report incidents at Tarnica Park.

The board members said just five calls had been made to police about the park in the past 10 years according to the available records.

Mr Ross said it felt like the meeting was focusing on why the local board won’t do anything, “rather than what solutions can be arrived at”.

Board member Adele White suggested a sensor light be installed by the children’s playground at the park as “that’s a gathering place where people drink”.

She said it would be solar-powered so it wouldn’t need to be connected to a power source and would be activated by movement.

Board chairman David Collings said the light would need to be industrial-strength and vandal-proof.

He apologised to the residents for the length of time it’s taken to find a solution to the problems at the park and committed to having the light installed by summer.