A new safety initiative will make Bronx parks safer.
Local elected officials joined NYC Parks and the NYPD in announcing the completion of Phase One of the Blue Lights Parks Safety Pilot Program for four local parks at a press conference on Wednesday, August 30 at Soundview Park.
As part of Phase I, 40 blue light emergency call boxes have been installed in Pugsley Creek Park, Soundview Park, Concrete Plant Park and Starlight Park.
The program is designed to shorten response times to park emergencies.
The project was announced by Mayor de Blasio during a town hall on Wednesday, May 24 at Adlai E. Stevenson High School.
The mayor pledged that the blue lights would be installed by the end of summer 2017.
“I am heartened that the city has come through on schedule to bring new safety to our wonderful parks and am glad to have contributed funding for the project,” shared Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda.
The location of each box was determined based on information pooled from the NYPD and Parks.
A 911 call made from a blue light box will display the caller’s exact location inside the park so police officers can respond immediately.
“It can be difficult for New Yorkers to accurately communicate their location to police when inside a big park because there are no cross streets or landmarks to provide,” explained NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver.
The first phase was funded by $400,000 from Councilwoman Annabel Palma.
“Under the cover of darkness, criminal activity tends to flourish; I believe equipping parks with emergency alarm stations will help reduce the opportunities for these crimes to take place,” expressed Palma.
The pilot program was a coordinated effort between the city and local elected officials created in response to the tragic death of Christian Negron on June 28, 2015.
Negron, a La Guardia Community College student, was attacked by seven men from behind, struck several times in the back of his head and robbed in broad daylight at Pugsley Creek Park.
He escaped his assailants and was discovered by his grandmother unconscious and unresponsive on July 8, 2015.
Negron was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced brain dead. He was taken off of life support on July 17, 2015.
A 911 call made during Negron’s assault led police officers to an inaccurate location in the park.
“The more we grow as a community and enhance our open spaces, the more it is our responsibility to also ensure that they are safe and welcoming for all visitors,” shared Assemblyman Marcos Crespo.
“This highly anticipated project goes a long way to increasing security at our parks which should always represent a safe haven for the residents they serve,” expressed Senator Jeff Klein.
Phase II and III will provide additional safety technologies to the parks including noise, light and air quality sensors to improve the understanding of the parks’ environment.
Funding for the two remaining phases has been pledged by Borough President Diaz, Senator Klein and Crespo and Sepulveda.