A More ‘Playful’ Bayne Park = A Safer Bellevue

62cbf9cc-529d-435b-b76b-b95bbf97d5c7_dBellevue reaped some positive and negative news last week. First, Mayor Cusick announced that KaBOOM! and the Humana Foundation named Bellevue as one of 241 cities on its Playful Cities USA list. Just days earlier, Bellevue’s premier park was the scene of gun-related crime. Two young men met a third man in Bayne Park – something very normal – except the purpose was for an arranged drug deal. The two young men had the bright idea to try to rob the drug dealer which resulted in a gun being discharged. This happened in broad daylight.

Take a stroll through Bayne Park and you will notice the litter, foul language, and teen loitering. Connie Rankin, editor of The Citizen, has a great blog post worth reading about what to do about behavior Bayne Park – and she’s perfectly right. contrary to what many on Bellevue Council are currently proposing, Bayne Park doesn’t more rules or less skateboarders. Connie explains that concerns about Bayne Park are rooted in the theory of ‘environment influences behavior’. Here are four simple things that can be done to improve Bayne Park and ultimately create a safer Bellevue:

  1. Get more adults in Bayne Park. On any given day, the average age of those using Bayne Park is under 18. In most cases that should be fine but the number of responsible adults supervising children using Bayne Park facilities can be counted on one hand. We have all been teens before and we know that many teens act differently when adults aren’t around.  More adults need to be in Bayne Park – walking on the sidewalk, sitting on benches, or playing with children. Another way is to work with Bayne Library to expand their hours. Bellevue takes pride in being a working class community but library hours reflect traditional business hours. If working families can’t use the library when they’re not working, it makes it difficult and less convenient to use Bellevue’s library. Teens are less likely to curse, littler, smoke, or fight when adults are around.
  2. Have the Northgate Resource Officer in Bayne Park. Bellevue already pays the largest share of the cost for having a police officer at Northgate Junior/Senior High School.  Since most of the concerns are related to the behavior of the teens, the police officer most acquainted with our community’s teens should be visible in Bayne Park. If the high school Resource Officer position is a year-round position, then there is no reason that officer shouldn’t be a frequent and visible visitor to Bayne Park. Why else? See #1.
  3. Allow dogs in Bayne Park. Why are dogs prohibited from Bayne Park? We can reasonably assume due to owners inability to pick up after their dogs. Yes, dogs can also be dangerous. There are many people with dogs considered to be ‘dangerous’ breeds walking their pets through Bellevue yet dog violence is rare in our community. There is easily enough room for dogs to play in open areas in three of the four corners of the park. Despite fears of dogs – leashed or unleashed – running in Bayne Park may frighten some, they also bring responsible adults to the park. Why is this important? Again, refer to #1.
  4. Repair or replace the playground equipment. If you have children in Bellevue you’ve probably played on the playground at Bayne Park. If so, you’ve probably also noticed the sorry state of Bayne Park’s playground equipment. Those with young children realize the predicament they have. The newer equipment is damaged and in need of repair – but it is also designed for older children. Several features are unreachable for young children or too dangerous for a child who doesn’t have their balance. The equipment designed for a small child is lackluster – but also the closest to the skate plaza, where foul language is most likely to be overheard.  This often makes visits to Bayne Park brief, thus reducing the number of responsible adults visible in the park. If funds can be found to provide a robust playground (see North Park’s popular black & gold playground) this will make Bayne Park a top destination not just for Bellevue families but that will attract families from outside the Borough to come here to play – and hopefully live.
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13 Responses to “A More ‘Playful’ Bayne Park = A Safer Bellevue”

  1. I could not agree more! I’m not sure if there might be grants available for help getting some new playground equipment, but it could be worth a look. There is a lot of unused space in the park as well, perhaps it could be made to be a little more welcoming for recreational use? Possibly better lighting, allowing the park to be used later than 8 or 9 pm, many parks are closed from midnight to dawn. Build up the hype around movies in the park, maybe allow people to bring their dog, invite a food truck or two to sell their food to movie-goers, and maybe even (GASP!) allow movie go-ers to BYOB!!! As someone that has travelled to a lot of cities, large and small, the cities that felt the safest are the ones with the most foot traffic in the parks, business districts and public areas. I have also visited cities that felts like i could get mugged and killed at any moment due to lack of people in the streets. The more people around later into the night, the safer our town will be and feel.

    As a resident that previously owned a business in Bellevue, I cannot believe the amount of trash and cigarette butts on the ground. I used to personally sweep our sidewalk every day, and it was amazing to me how many cigarette butts would accumulate in 24 hours. Are there not littering fines in Bellevue? Imagine the revenue the borough could bring in for handing out fines every time an officer saw someone litter a cigarette butt. More beat cops! Along Lincoln Avenue, on the side streets, and even on the residential streets near the business district. Beat cops that walk through our most used resources, the parks, the bus stop areas, the school areas. Once our borough is not a desirable place for undesirable behavior, the undesirables will move along!

  2. I agree with Nina. Children and teens need to be outdoors expending energy and having fun. The skate park is great for this. It makes me nervous also to see groups of older teens just huddling together and doing nothing. A beat police officer walking through the park at various times would discourage shady activities and make others more comfortable with police presence.

  3. Occasionally there will be touch football games in Bayne Park. There could be other things for the older kids to do if there was just more acreage in the borough for the older kids. Ah, but there is. Why in the heck is that taxpayer owned and maintained sacred ground housing the football field behind Bellevue elementary locked up like the yard at the SCI at Woods Run? Open the thing up and maybe the kids will come up with something to do with that space. IMHO that skate park was just as much of a dumb idea as the basketball courts. All of that skate park money was wasted on a core group of maybe 25 kids. Unfortunately, street urchins, the spawn of irresponsible and inattentive parents, are always going to be a problem.

  4. Part of #2 is just wrong. The school district pays the bulk of the resource officer’s salary (through grants and school taxes). It would be wonderful to have the Boro benefit from having the resource officer in the park at least some of the time. But of course the Boro should underwrite those costs. I totally support #4. What grants have we applied for to provide new play equipment?

    • Either directly or indirectly, Bellevue is providing the lion’s share of the Northgate resource officer. Bellevue pays the vast majority of taxes into Northgate in addition to its municipal share of the position cost. We’re paying for most of it one way or another. That was the point of the statement.

      • There are more people in Bellevue, so the share would be greater because there are more people paying. That’s true. Was that what the original post meant? I thought the article meant the Boro. Of course, the grant that’s paid a good deal of the cost recently comes from a different source.

      • Linda Woshner July 2, 2015 at 12:02 pm

        The school received grants to partly pay for the SRO officer for the past 2 school years. For many years, the school paid $20,000 a school year towards the cost. This coming school year, the school district will reimburse the borough 75% of the actual cost of the officer when working in the school and the following year it will be the full cost of the SRO officer only when he is working at the school. Since the officer is a Sargent, the borough will still take on the cost of paying an officer Sargent’s wages when the SRO officer is not working his shift for Bellevue. Since the SRO officer is a Bellevue police officer, when the officer is not working in the school he will resume his duties for Bellevue. This is the school and borough working together to protect our children.

  5. I have to agree with the author on #4. I am from Bellevue, and frequent a few of the parks around the area (Quaill Park in Ross, Bayne, Bellevue Memorial) among others. I find the playground equipment outdated and in bad repair. Within 30 minutes, my daughter is generally bored with the equipment there and is ready to leave. More and more, we regularly visit the playground outside of Bellevue Elementary. Everytime we visit the playground, I find at least one family there, and sometimes multiples. There’s times at Bayne we could be there for an hour or two and not see another child. The playground equipment at Bellevue is more updated and has ramps and slides that most parks have now. In talking with other parents, they all have the same complaints as I do. “The park is set up more as an adolescent park” or “the playground equipment is in bad shape” and “there are never any other kids at Bayne”.

    I really do not think the teenagers or the skatepark are the problem with attracting more adults or families to Bayne. Unlike some parents, I do not mind the teenagers at the skate park, and some have even done tricks to entertain some of the younger kids that were watching. They do swear (what teenagers don’t) but generally are respectful and mind their own business.

    That being said, what can be done to update the equipment at Bayne? I know budgets are tight and money for these kind of projects can be hard to come up with. But, could we do a community fundraiser or raffle to raise funds for updated playground equipment at Bayne? Working with local businesses to sell tickets or donate items to raffle could work as well. I have family in Brentwood, which is a similar size community to ours, and they were able to redo a lot of their park with fundraisers and applying for grants.

    Issues 1 thru 3 are correct as well, but not much will change until better playground equipment is installed to give draw children back to Bayne.

    • I can’t agree with you more about the playground equipment at Bayne Park. Council has tried and is trying to get a grant to update the playground equipment. I, recently, talked to the Chief of Staff from Adam Ravenstahl’s office and they would help us write the grant application and Adam would send a note with the application. Grants are hard to come by. I like the raffle ticket idea but keep in mind we are talking about a $75,000 to $100,000 investment to start.

  6. Well, I guess no one was aware of the article below from the Tribune Review? If this is still accurate, this is great news.

    Here is a quote from the article on Bayne Library and Park.
    “The borough will use a $45,000 loan for the library work; a $60,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will fund improvements at the park. The latter grant will pay for new playground equipment, sidewalks and a handicap-accessible entrance to the skate park.”

    http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/alleghenyneighborhoods/alleghenyneighborhoodsmore/8630796-74/library-bellevue-park#ixzz3gimB8K2Y

    • I see above our councilwoman is still trying to write a grant application while this article states Bellevue has secured a $60,000 grant and already has plans in place for new playground equipment and repaving sidewalks. Is it just me, or do you think council would already be aware of this?

  7. Tom, thank you for the opportunity to elaborate more on the progress /plans at Bayne Park. I know; to make me look bad is the convenient thing to do and it is hard for anyone to remember everything council does but, before you criticize me, it would be appropriate to check your facts for accuracy.

    The $60,000 grant (submitted in 2013) is Phase III of the grant which included the skate plaza. It is for handicapped access to the skate plaza, access improvements, green infrastructure and some additional parking.

    Yes, we did apply for a playground equipment grant for Bayne Park in the April. We will know in September if it is approved. This phase of the project is estimated to be $100,990. We requested $50,495 with the borough matching the grant funding. There is no guarantee of approval and council should always be looking for grant opportunities. We are, also, looking to secure a grant from Kaboom. This is not a small project. Playground equipment is expensive. In addition, we need to install compliant safety surfacing and make it ADA compliant. $100,000 is just a start. Council and the staff are not sitting on their hands.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Dear LiB: Just Another Day in the Park, by Tom Fodi | Liberty in Bellevue, PA - June 30, 2015

    […] There’s been a lot of great conversation concerning Bayne Park and the Bellevue community as a whole on LiB today. After the violent incident which occurred not long ago in the park we all hold dear, it is quite encouraging to see the community rallying to find ways to make the park safer and more enjoyable for people of all ages. I concur wholeheartedly with the ideas suggested in the previous post (more adults in the Park, a stronger police presence, allow do… […]

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