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New signs aim to increase safety, curb problems in local parks

Posted: May 25, 2012 - 12:01am
Signs like these have recently been installed at local parks around Juneau. George Schaaf, CBJ Parks and Recreation Superintendent, said he hopes they will encourage users to report problems or suspicious activity.   ABBY LOWELL / JUNEAU EMPIRE
ABBY LOWELL / JUNEAU EMPIRE
Signs like these have recently been installed at local parks around Juneau. George Schaaf, CBJ Parks and Recreation Superintendent, said he hopes they will encourage users to report problems or suspicious activity.

New signs are popping up at local parks in an effort to curb suspicious activity and encourage users to let officials know when things need fixing.

City and Borough of Juneau Parks and Recreation Superintendent George Schaaf said the unofficial program is called “Park Watch” and the new signs were the result of community input.

After talking to park users, Schaaf said he heard recurring reports of suspicious activity. Of course, the parks department can’t issue tickets and can’t really tell people to stop, he said, so he turned to the Juneau Police Department for advice.

“We ended up shuffling people (who called in with problems) around a lot,” he said. “And even though the JPD is stretched thin, they said they absolutely wanted to hear about these things.”

So Schaaf borrowed a logo from the Massachusetts State Parks and created signs that tell people who to call when issues arise in Juneau parks. The signs stand out in bright yellow and list numbers for emergency services, the JPD and the CBJ Parks and Recreation Department. Schaaf said he hopes to get people’s awareness notched up a bit.

“If there’s families in the park and there’s shadiness going on, or if they don’t feel safe, (the signs) employ park users to report that kind of thing,” he said. “If something doesn’t look right, there’s a number to call.”

Plus, Schaaf hopes these signs will also encourage users to report things that need fixing.

“Our park crews visit parks often, but we don’t often know everything,” Schaaf said. “We put the park maintenance number on there, too, so people know who to contact if there’s a problem.”

In the end, Schaaf said he just wants locals and visitors to become good stewards of the parks.

 

• Contact Outdoors editor Abby Lowell at abby.lowell@juneauempire.com.

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