Continuing to provide a wholesome environment at Phelan Community Park was discussed during the Parks Committee Meeting at the PPHCSD on January 10, 2023. Staff and board members exchanged ideas on how to stop the vandalism of the restrooms located in the park. Fist fighting at the park has become another matter creating a safety and liability issue and detracting from its welcoming, clean, and safe environment for wholesome family and community gatherings in its attractive outdoor setting.
Staff explained that they are looking for ways to prevent the park from being destroyed. Graffiti, vandalism, and loitering seem to be the significant issues of concern for the restrooms, causing staff to close the restrooms in the middle of the day and during times of heavy park use. Another option staff is considering is to close the restroom and install a portable toilet (port-a-potty) because it’s not as easy or fun for groups of individuals to congregate or smoke pot inside such a “confined aromatic space.”
Another concern is the number of fights that occur at the park. The park seems to be a favorite location for teens to fight each other after school hours. Law enforcement has been called several times to break up teen fights that have grown to include their parent’s brawling as well. Shockingly, one incident involved middle-aged women who had scheduled to brawl at the park. One of the women was punched out, and staff had to perform first aid and keep her stable until an ambulance arrived.
While the park is monitored throughout the day, problems seem to occur from when local schools end until about 5pm. The staff reported that Thursdays seem to be the worst, as local schools let out early because of a minimum-day schedule. Parks and Recreation staff has proposed gathering costs, estimated at $25,000, to consider employing a trained security guard part-time during those hours. Staff also explained that the problem would likely be remedied when the Sheriff’s Department moves into the current PPHCSD Offices at the northwest corner of the park. The PPHCSD has started civic center and park expansion projects, including new offices and administration facilities for the PPHCSD.
Currently, one full-time and one half-time employee keeps a watchful eye while multitasking between two parks for vandalism, theft, and any other issues that crop up. Due to liability reasons, they can’t get involved in fights or altercations.
Rules and regulations are posted in the park, and the idea of a possible penalty for breaking park rules could be added. Offenders of these rules, both teen and adult, have been permanently banned from coming back to the Phelan Community Park property. Staff commended the Sheriff’s Department on its quick response to fights underway at this location.
For over ten years, the Phelan Community Park has been a place for groups to play basketball, walk dogs, push toddlers on the swings, catch a movie or bands in the park, have lunch or sit and chat with friends safely. The staff and committee board members are working on ideas to keep it that way.