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Although the skate park behind P.S. 304 on Lafayette Avenue is still a major concern in the area, the city has seemingly taken notice of the problem and the previous fears of parents and teachers have started to subside.
Recently, community members raised ire after condoms, drug paraphernalia and empty alcohol bottles were continually found in the park and playground, which is located behind the building that houses P.S. 304 along with M.S. 101 and P.10, a small school for students with disabilities, and used by all three. One teacher even reported seeing a couple having sex in the park, which includes some basketball courts and one of the few skate parks in the Bronx.
After holding PTA meetings about the issue last month, and raising the issue at a recent Community Board 10 meeting, the school and community officials have started working with police and the city Parks Department to focus on the issue. According to Frances Maturo, chairwoman of TNCAPP, the Parks Department has started locking the park during school hours, and is working with school officials to keep the area locked at night. The Parks Department will also be setting up several security cameras in the park that were paid for through a $10,000 grant from Congressman Joseph Crowley.
“The important thing is we’ve come up with a better way to secure the park and we’re going to move forward,” Maturo said.
Since the May PTA meeting, police have given out 30 citations at the park. Along with the security grant, Maturo said the Archdiocese Drug Abuse Prevention Program, for which she serves as executive director, is also working with the New York Police Department to process a $20,000 grant that will pay for police overtime so the park can be monitored. She expects about $10,000 from the grant will be spent to watch high-priority parks in the area, including the skate park, from mid-June until the end of the year.
“It’s TNCAPP, the schools and the parks working together to get the schools to be as safe as possible and I think that’s going to happen,” she said.
But both Maturo and school officials were cautiously optimistic about the park. Lisa Schiliro-Reilly, the parent coordinator at the school, said that the park has become cleaner after the Parks Department began locking the doors. But she also admitted the area was still strewn with some refuse and a seemingly homeless man, who made several threatening remarks to parents, was coming to the park on an almost daily basis.
“I had a few scraggly skateboarders coming in this morning,” she said on Friday, June 11. “But when I talked to them they were really polite and they left.”
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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