Renovation plans for Van Nest Park are expected to be released soon, but until then, the efforts to create a safer place to play continue.
For years, Van Nest residents have been concerned about nighttime drug dealing, gang activity, and violence in Van Nest Park.
Instances such as these inspired community activists to form the new Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance.
At the request of the group, Senator Jeff Klein and Cross County Federal Savings Bank teamed-up to install security cameras just outside Van Nest Parkto record daily activity in and around the park and its surrounding area.
Three cameras, which were installed in undisclosed locations, will be monitored by the 49th Precinct should any criminal activity occur, and local residents are extremely grateful.
“We can’t thank Senator Klein and Cross County Federal Savings Bank enough for being a part of this and helping Van Nest raise the bar,” said Bernadette Ferrara, vice president of the VNNA. “Van Nest Park is the hub of our community and keeping it safe for our parents and their kids, even during evening hours, is important. We want our families to feel safe because our children need a place to play.”
The cameras were approximately $1,000 and the money to purchase them was provided by Cross County Federal Savings Bank, which opened in June on 791 Morris Park Avenue and is the first bank in the Van Nest community in over 15 years.
According to branch manager Hal Kalezic, the bank has wanted to help local residents in any way possible since the branch opened in the Van Nest community.
“It’s all about showing our support for the neighborhood since we service the residents here,” Kalezic said.
“When we were first brought into the community we had asked local residents how we can help to improve the area and the addition of the cameras was one of the first things mentioned. We were more than happy to contribute in providing them to enhance safety around the park.”
Senator Klein was able to help the VNNA secure the proper permits to have the cameras installed around the park, as well as arrange the 49th Precinct to access them.
“This is about a community banding together and fighting for their neighborhood,” Klein said. “I am very proud to have helped makes these cameras a reality, and help Van Nest families take back the park that rightfully belongs to them. We want to make sure that this is a park that will continue to service our entire community for many years to come.”