All but invisible to local passersby – and local police – from its entrance on State Street, bordered on one side by the backyards of adjacent homes, on the opposite side by a chain link fence overlooking Pond Run, and on both ends by local streets, Bromley Park provides the most glaring example of how bad design, bad siting, and lack of safety and security can turn Hamilton’s neighborhood parks from potential neighborhood assets into real neighborhood liabilities.
Despite prominent signs proclaiming that the park is only open during daylight hours, and that it is under 24/7 surveillance by the Hamilton Township Police Department, Bromley residents constantly complain that, night after night, this wide flat expanse becomes a hotbed of drug deals, gang fights and public sex. Local police seem powerless to enforce the municipal ordinances and state laws intended to control this kind of activity.
This has been going on for decades.
Look around Bromley Park and its deficiencies jump out. From a siting and design perspective, nothing about the park makes it a neighborhood asset instead of a neighborhood liability. Easy and uncontrolled access to an area only partially visible from either entrance, and at any time of the day or night, makes local residents shun the park after dark. A basketball court at its least visible end makes it an attractive hangout for out-of-area teens, including gang members. A small playground adjacent to the basketball court, with one bench, is the park’s only other attraction.
An urban park succeeds when local residents perceive it as a psychological extension of their backyards and front porches. A successful park comes to be seen as a shared safe place, for conversation, relaxation, simple games, and family gatherings. It appeals to all age groups, not only parents of young children, or teenagers looking for a place to play group sports or hang out, away from the prying eyes of parents or the police.
Its location enhances its appeal, acting as a visual connector between homes and businesses. And its design enhances the appeal of the surrounding homes and businesses as well.
For a park like Bromley Park to turn into an asset, local residents need to envision what it could be and also decide that what it could be matters to them as much as what it is. This sense that the condition of a local urban park has a major impact on the safety and security of our families, and on the value of our homes, needs to be matched by a shared conviction that “We Own This Park”.
Instead of depending on local government action that will likely never happen, a Friends of Bromley Park group can start the process. The history of parks improvement shows that, when committed residents lead, government soon starts to follow.
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