South Albany park improvements to help fight crime - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Albany park improvements to help fight crime

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –A new weapon in the fight against gangs and crime.  The city is cleaning up a city park to make the neighborhood safer.

People who live in the South Albany neighborhood say it will help curb the crime and violence in their area.

This is the park that neighborhood watch leaders say could be a key to reinvigorate their community, and letting criminals know they are not wanted. It's called MLK Park, where the old River Road Middle School stood, until the flood of 94. Right now the park is closed.  The walking track is in bad shape, and the lights are mostly out. City leaders say in a couple of months this park will be the focal point of the community.

Just across the street from the park, Tree Top Piru gang signs painted on the side of a closed down store. But neighbors are celebrating today that city leaders have agreed to make improvements on the MLK Park, and send a message to the gangs.

MLK Neighborhood watch Captain Willie Ross said "That will let the crooks know by beautifying something, we are not playing. You know, we want our neighborhood back."

Right now the park is closed, and work is slated to start within the month. A new walking track, soccer and ball fields, playground equipment, exercise equipment, and improved lighting are in the plans.

Albany Recreation and Parks Director Suzanne Davis said "To really turn that into an area the community can utilize. And really increase the value of the property around that community. Make it a wonderful area, a beautiful park."

Ross said the community will plant flowers and trees around the park, to show their pride. Neighborhood watch leaders say they are making progress fighting crime in the area, by joining together. And they think the improved park will help.

Ross said "Maybe some of the gang members, the younger guys, will come out. They got a nice place to go. Play baseball or play football. And don't have time to think about a gang."

Ross said his neighborhood watch group has let drug dealers know they are not welcome. They hope the park will bring out the desirable parts of the neighborhood, so they will grow.

The park is closed now, because the walking track has some dangerous areas. Neighborhood watch leaders are asking people to stay out of the park so the city construction can be done as soon as possible.

The Colonial Village neighborhood watch group in East Albany beautified their streets by planting flowers and trees, and credit that with helping fight crime in their area, letting crooks know that the people who live there don't want them around.

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