City to hire park "police" - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

City to hire park "police"

Brockey Brock Brockey Brock

Valdosta-- It's been one month since the newly renovated Barber Park re-opened in Valdosta, and it's become a busy place. Unfortunately, some people aren't taking care of the $1.5 million investment, so the city is hiring people to help control the situation.

Barber Park is quiet and empty right now, but on any given weekend, "We have more people in this park than I thought we ever would have," said Brockey Brock, Parks and Recreation Director.

And when Monday morning rolls around, the grounds are littered with trash and beer bottles, and screens have been busted out of the picnic shelters. "I think there's a small percentage of people who really feel that because the government is taking care of this park, they don't have to do their part," said Brock.

The city recently put $1.5 million into renovating the park. Basketball courts have been resurfaced, a splash park and fitness trail were added, along with new playground equipment and several other attractions.

To make sure their investment isn't wasted, Valdosta city council has approved a new job position to prevent any more park destruction. "Someone we can put out here in the afternoons and on the weekends that would be a mentor and also something like a park ranger to oversee what's going on and make sure we protect this investment," said Brock.

And the community is stepping up too. They've started a group called "Friends of Barber Park," kind of like a watch-group for the park. "We want them to be the eyes and ears of our citizenship and if there is something bad going on, all they have to do is call the police or sheriff's department and we'll take care of it," said Brock.

Because this park belongs to the community. "It was paid for with their tax money," said Brock. And it will take a community-wide effort to make sure its kept clean. The city hopes to eventually hire park rangers to monitor all of the parks in the city.

email: ashley.harper@walb.com

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