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Bend Parks & Rec takes new safety measures

By Alicia Inns
Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:54:23 AM CST
Updated On: Aug 22 2013 07:25:38 PM CDT

Safety -- it's the top priority for the Bend Parks and Rec District at its 68 parks. After noticing a string of vandalism and people breaking park rules over the summer, the district decided to hire some extra eyes and ears.

BEND, Ore. -

Jessica Yasutome is getting to know neighbors, parents and most importantly people who use the park.

"We had been seeing a violation in some of the park rules, we just want to stay on top of it.," she said.

She's the districts new park safety resource, and with summer still in full swing, vandalism and late-night park hangout sessions have become the norm.

"The graffiti, the vandalism, they cost us thousands of dollars," Yasutome said.

That's something she is out to stop.

"People are calling me directly when they see problems. It really helps with the communication," Yasutome said.

April Sliker lives near Harmon Park in Bend and runs an in-home day care, so safety is a No. 1 concern, at home and at the park.

"It's going to reassure us parents that we are coming down here with our children that they're safe." Sliker said.

And though she notices some problems at the park herself, it's the extra eyes that bring her comfort.

"I think just having a contact person, someone that we can call that we can chat to just knowing someone is aware," she said. "We came right after Brewfest and found four big jugs of beer over there, so it's reassuring."

It's also reassuring for neighbor Terry Foley, who lives directly across from Harmon Park and has seen some of the damage himself.

"There was some graffiti on the side of the boat house, and I've seen some vandalism on the kids playground," Foley said.

There's a little more hope for those things to fade with Yasutome's new job.

"Maybe this sets a good example for people. Maybe it's a good influence," Foley said.

Whether it's not wearing a life jacket or drinking in the park, Yasutome says she and the neighbors will be watching -- all for the sake of safety.

"We are finding that it's a lot calmer, there are a lot fewer rule violations, and we just keep trying to make this a good experience for everybody," she said.

If you've noticed some unusual activity or want to report anything suspicious going on in your neighborhood park, call Bend Parks and Rec Park Services at 541-388-5435 or call 911 dispatch at 541-693-6911

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