Park Seeing Increased Crime Without Pool

video preview image

MEDFORD, Ore. — Demolition has begun on the Hawthorne Park pool two years after it officially closed and 63 years after it opened. Medford resident Bill Bardakos said it was a landmark.

“I’ve been here for 8-9 years and I remember bringing my daughter down here, going swimming and I saw the tractors here and it’s a little bit sad,” said Bardakos.

In the two full summers since the pool closed, the number of calls Medford police have responded to have sharply increased. In the summer months of 2010 the last season the pool was open police responded to 107 calls at Hawthorne Park. Last summer, that number was up 59.7% to 179. Police said the majority of those calls are for minor crimes.

“Most of the illegal activity that occurs in the park is drinking in public, maybe a fight occasionally, but usually minor stuff,” said Medford Police Lt. Mike Budreau.

A lonely swing had a front row view to Thursday’s demolition. The city of Medford will be remodeling Hawthorne Park and adding new features hoping to bring more people out. Parks and recreation officials say once completed it’s up to the public to take advantage of it.

“If people want their park back, they’ve got to take it back part of that is going to be some of the programming that we will be doing down there,” said Medford Parks & Rec. Director Brian Sjothun.

Lt. Mike Budreau with Medford police said the more the park is used by families and the general public the less crime will hang around.

“The more sanctioned park activities combined with families and kids coming to the park for lawful reasons actually discourages the criminal element and gets them out of here,” said Lt. Mike Budreau.

Bardakos said he rides through the park almost every day and despite the statistics has never had any bad experiences.

“You know, there’s a certain element, but I’ve never had any problems,” said Bardakos.