'Red Shirt' playground patrols working, group says
Volunteers keeping an eye on misbehaving teens around Carleton Community Centre
A Saint John community group says volunteer patrols of a west side playground that had become a gathering place for misbehaving teens has proven successful.
Members of the Lower Westians have been donning red shirts and patrolling the area around the Carleton Community Centre two or three nights a week since mid-May.
"The kids that we have there that we did have a few problems with in the past, they realize we're there, we're in the community and they're actually taking pride in the park now," said group founder Meaghan Colwell.
Saint John's recreation manager Kevin Watson says the work the so-called Red Shirts are doing, along with ongoing development of the park will go a long way in transforming one of the city's priority neighbourhoods.
The City is spending $500,000 on developing an outdoor fitness area as part of Market Place West Conceptual Master Plan.
It will include gym equipment, volleyball courts, a skate park and games tables.
"It also encourages all of the west side to come together," said Watson. "It encourages other parts of the city to come over and use resources in other communities. As a result, you're linking neighbourhoods together and you're basically bringing the collective community as a whole together."
Plans are also in place for a splash pad and dog park in a couple of years, which will bring the investment total to more than $2 million, said Watson.
"It's a multi-phased approach. It's going to take more time, more effort, more funds to actually make this achievable," he said.
Watson is hoping for funding from all levels of government and a little "sweat equity" from the community to make the plan a reality.