Jun 27, 2007

Safety Suggestion for Miller Park

Letter submitted to Thursday's East Precinct Crime Prevention Coalition (EPCPC) meeting (which I can't attend)

To: Royal Alley-Barnes (Manager, North Region Parks Resources and Citywide Athletics), Stephanie Tschida (EPCPC chair), Veronica Pugh (EPCPC staff)
Dear All
I regret that previously scheduled family obligations prevent me from attending the EPCPC meeting on Thursday.

Here's a Parks security issue I'd like to raise again (I've previously suggested it to Parks)

To: Thavy Pen, Miller Community Center Director
At a recent neighborhood meeting I heard a report from a neighbor who lives immediately adjacent to the lower Miller parking lot: she has witnessed players urinating in the bushes near the parking lot, because the outdoor toilets at Miller were locked.

When Miller Community Center was designed I campaigned for toilets on the outside of the building with good sight lines to the playfield. Soccer-playing colleagues of mine had expressed concerns about the safety of leaving the field at some soccer locations. The outside toilets are indeed in a good location, and are easily visible from the field, even after the installation of the Miller fountain.

The drug issues in our neighborhood have impacted these toilets: there are sporadic reports of drug use and prostitution in the toilets, as well as damage to the toilets. Center staff typically lock the toilets before they leave at 9 PM.

I gather that the Center is investigating the installation of security cameras, some with a view of the toilet area, to increase security in the area.

I write to share some observations I made a coupe of years ago at a beachside park in Tacoma. That park was unstaffed, and the toilets were locked automatically at night. There was a prominent sign advising of the hours of toilet operation.

I write to suggest that, along with the security cameras, a similar locking system be installed at Miller Community Center. I suggest that the doors be unlocked at 8 AM and be locked at 10:15 PM, to allow sports teams to use them after their games finish at 10 PM. In such systems the locked doors allow patrons to leave, but don't allow new users to enter. As an added bonus I would suggest that the lights in the toilets (which are now motion activated, I believe) be made to flash a couple of times and then go out at 10:20 PM, to discourage drug users and prostitutes from lingering in the bathrooms.

This system should be relatively low cost, and should allow sports players full access to the restrooms, while effectively discouraging after hours illicit use of the facilities. This, together with security cameras, should help us reclaim full use of our valuable public facility.

Many thanks,
PS: The toilet in question is in Jack Hyde Park on North Ruston Way in Tacoma. It is (as I recall) the small building in the middle of this Google satellite view.
Since writing the above I have also used self-locking toilets in a park in Monroe: I attach copies of photos of these latter toilets. These toilets are in the Lewis Street Park in Monroe: see this Google map . should you wish to go check them out.

Thank you all for your continued diligent work on our behalf,

Andrew Taylor

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