Friendship Park remains without surveillance cameras

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Parks and Recreations Department continues to struggle with vandalism at Friendship Park without surveillance cameras. Photo by Julia Arenstam

The steady stream of vandalism at Friendship Park has continued, despite efforts by the Parks and Recreation Department.
Director of Parks and Recreation Trevor Adam said the latest targets of vandalism are the control panels for the park’s lights.
Recently, vandals broke into the boxes, damaging circuits and disconnecting the lights, Adam said.
One panel was broken last week, costing the city a few thousand dollars to replace, Adam said.
“We want to be useful and try to save taxpayers dollars,” Adam said. “Friendship Park is huge, there’s things that we’re not going to be able to get to and things that we can’t see.”
Many community members have complained about the amount of trash and graffiti found at the park through social media and are calling for the city to install surveillance cameras.
“We have been trying to get security cameras, but it’s an expensive cost,” Adam said.
He said the lack of surveillance makes it difficult to catch vandals.
Some minor damage in the park includes damage to the fence surrounding the playground area, a missing light and a broken swing.
Adam said the department doesn’t know specifically what happened, but they are working on putting up a new fence.
The cost of maintaining the park due to vandalism has put a strain on the budget, hindering Adam’s efforts to improve the facility and its programs.
Recently, someone drove through the football field at the park, causing severe damage, Adam said.
However, the department recently joined the South Mississippi Youth Football league and partnered with the Maroon Tide to use the football stadium for team’s home games, Adam said.
The park is once again home to a youth soccer league, holding games at the local park for the first time in eight to 10 years. That move is saving families from a 20-mile drive to other facilities, Adam said.
Though, some parents have complained about the lack of bleachers near the soccer fields, which parents also say have been neglected.
However, Adam said the newly installed splash pad, which appears to be free of vandalism, has brought many families to the park.
Adam estimated there are between 100-200 people using the attraction every day, even now that school is back in session.
He said the splash pad and playground equipment are a huge success, and something other recreational facilities do not have.
The department is looking to develop a parking lot near those areas to prevent reoccurring drainage issues during heavy rains, Adam said. Parking, drainage and lights have always been an issue, Adam said.
The department consists of Adam, along with two other full-time and one part-time employee who try to maintain the park day, he said.
“I take pride in the fact that I get out there right along side my guys and do the work,” Adam said. “There are a lot of things that I wish I could do, but it takes time.”
The department is currently applying for grants to fund updates to the park, specifically the bathrooms and other utilities that have a high maintenance cost, Adam said.
Parents and the Picayune Youth Association Diamond Project are raising money for the bathroom renovations, Adam said.
He encourages anyone who sees an act of vandalism or misuse of the park to call 601-916-9016 or email the department at Most vandalism occurs over the weekend when department employees are not there, Adam said.
“We want to continue to grow and improve the park and the quality of life the best we can,” Adam said. “It just doesn’t start or stop with us, the community is the biggest asset we have to be able to improve it.”

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About Julia Arenstam

Staff Writer

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