Reclaim your park, locals told

By Kiri Gillespie

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The Maungatapu community have been told to reclaim their park from people who use it for unsavoury activities.

A community meeting held at a local resident's house last night attracted about 50 people who expressed their concern at lewd behaviour and drug activity happening in the public toilets and walking tracks of Rotary Park.

Several residents spoke of how they took their children to play at the park before they realised what else it was used for. Now they were reluctant.

Residents spoke of sexual activity between men and drug activity and their fear of using the area.

They spoke of seeing the same cars arriving at the same times each day.

"It starts about 2.30 in the afternoon. There's this man ... he'll walk across the park with his hands in pockets and look as if he's all innocent. Next thing you know, someone else arrives, all go and they are up the path. He's there regularly," one woman said.

The meeting was attended by Welcome Bay councillor Bill Grainger, Tauranga City Council team manager of city parks Steve Webb and police.

Resident Delwyn Walker, who is also chair of the Maungatapu School Board of Trustees, said she grew up in Maungatapu and people needed to reclaim what was theirs.

"We need to take that park back. Don't be intimidated. That park has always been a family park. You swim down there. You play down there. You fish down there. If there was more people using that park, they will certainly move on."

Tauranga South police Senior Sergeant Lew Warner and Community Constable Leanne Fairbairn echoed Ms Walker's message, telling residents more activity would be unattractive to anyone planning to conduct unsavoury activity.

Surveillance signs, neighbourhood watch groups and reporting behaviour to police were offered as solutions.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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