MALL MAKEOVER

PO­LICE AND COM­MU­NITY UNITE TO PRE­PARE FOR PLAY­GROUND

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Ali­son Bald­ing

PO­LICE and com­mu­nity lead­ers are join­ing forces to clean up Daw­son Mall and con­vince res­i­dents it is a safe place to build a $1.6 mil­lion neigh­bour­hood play­ground.

The mea­sures al­ready taken range from covert po­lice oper­a­tions clamp­ing down on drug crime and al­co­hol-fu­elled vi­o­lence, to Black­town Coun­cil’s anti­graf­fiti pro­grams clean­ing away tags and re­brand­ing al­co­hol-free zones.

There have also been com­bined State and Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives, such as The El­ders Pa­trol — a group of Samoan el­ders who pa­trol the streets of Mt Druitt at night — which have been cred­ited with stop­ping an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour from esca- lat­ing into all-out vi­o­lence.

Mt Druitt po­lice crime preven­tion of­fi­cer Se­nior Con­sta­ble Paul Bates, Black­town Mayor Stephen Bali and Ward 4 coun­cil­lor and Mt Druitt MP Ed­mond Atalla (pic­tured) met in Daw­son Mall re­cently to dis­cuss the prob­lem area.

The group claims it has no­ticed a drop in crime and anti-so­cial be­hav­iour in the public space be­tween West- field and the li­brary. But it says com­mu­nity sup­port is vi­tal to the pro­ject’s suc­cess.

Cr Bali said a neigh­bour­hood play­ground in Daw­son Mall was a per­fect fit.

“How do you re­solve anti-so­cial be­hav­iour? I think you do that by bring­ing in ac­tiv­i­ties and en­cour­ag­ing fam­i­lies to use the area,” he said.

Sen-Con­sta­ble Bates, of Mt Druitt po­lice, wel­comed the plan.

“Crime in Daw­son Mall has dropped in gen­eral but there are still the oc­ca­sional prob­lems,” he said.

“We run a num­ber of oper­a­tions in the area. But I also think the com­mu­nity be­come more aware of an area when they feel own­er­ship, so we would def­i­nitely sup­port any in­vest­ment in this area.”

Cr Atalla re­cently moved into an of­fice over­look­ing the mall and said he had seen a de­crease in anti-so­cial be­hav­iour.

“I can say from my own ob­ser­va­tion, I am see­ing a de­cline in anti-so­cial be­hav­iour in Daw­son Mall,” he said.

He cred­its ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams run in schools by po­lice and the coun­cil’s pro- ac­tive graf­fiti re­moval for the im­prove­ment.

Cr Atalla said the new park would not come with­out plans for its pro­tec­tion and se­cu­rity.

“If coun­cil is in­vest­ing $1.6 mil­lion we need to pro­tect our own as­set and that will need to form part of the pro­ject’s man­age­ment and de­liv­ery,” he said.

It is still not known what the play­ground will in­clude but the coun­cil has not ruled out in­clud­ing wa­ter-play fea­tures.

Cr Atalla said a se­cu­rity guard could be em­ployed to pro­tect the play­ground dur­ing con­struc­tion and af­ter it opened.

“That is not an un­usual thing at all. I mean, at Christ­mas, we hire se­cu­rity to pro­tect a Christ­mas tree so it is cer­tainly some­thing we can con­sider,” he said.

In March The Stan­dard did a sam­ple poll with res­i­dents in the mall to gauge public opin­ion of the site for the park.

Most of those we spoke to said it would at­tract “un­de­sir­ables” af­ter hours.

Tolorosa Taulada said a play­ground in Daw­son Mall was a bad idea.

“A play­ground here would just cause more prob­lems - there is a lot of vi­o­lence here af­ter hours,” Ms Taulada said.

“The coun­cil will need to spend more money try­ing to stop it.

“Just come here af­ter 10pm and you can see it is just a place for street kids to hang.”

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