Malloy, Stamford officials laud Lione Park enhancements
STAMFORD — As local officials butt heads over how best to patrol the city’s parks, improvements were unveiled at Lione Park on Monday that many hope will signal a new day for the area.
For some officials, such as city Rep. Jeff Stella (D-9), the park improvements can go a long way toward improving quality of life on the West Side.
He said Monday was a great day for the neighborhood, which he represents on the board.
“When you give kids the opportunity of learning new experiences and creating a brotherhood with the people in the same neighborhood, it reduces a lot of the tension, it reduces crime, and it brings people together from different cultures,” he said.
The park, located on the city’s West Side, has been a frequent stop for Stamford police for reports of illegal behavior. This April, the park was the target of a raid that netted three arrests and 33 tickets. The infractions included drinking, drug use, public urination, and marijuana dealing, among other violations.
Rep. Rodney Pratt, who also represents the West Side, applaudedthe Lione Park improvements, but he wants the city to do even more.
At the top of his list is improving the bathrooms on the site, which he said are not well maintained and should be expanded. Pratt also wants more benches and better sanitation in general with new trash bins.
“They got to finish the job,” he said of the city.
Pratt is a strong advocate for adding dedicated police to the city’s parks.
For one thing, he said, it’ll stop the raids, which he said can be damaging and abrasive to the community.
“When our parks are such big attractions, do you want SWAT out there or a regular policeman to cruise through with a car, [and] write some tickets?” he said.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the park on Monday to celebrate the improvements, which include a new play structure for kids and new basketball and beach volleyball courts.
The enhancementsare essentially the first phase of a major addition to the adjacent Boys and Girls Club of Stamford, including a 18,000-square-foot teen center.
The state contributed more than $1 million to the park improvements, and $4.5 million toward the second phase, which will include the teen center.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy called the improvements an “investment in the future.”
“We make these investments in this area because we understand that urban environments have their own separate set of challenges,” he said.
Pratt said he was grateful to see the state’s involvement, and hopes the improvements can help revitalize a park he said has been neglected.
“When you improve the environment, people will adapt to it,” he said. “We’re improving the environment.”