By LESLIE COLLINS
September 5, 2012
One Northeast neighborhood is ready to combat criminal activity with rose bushes and raspberries.
When invasive honeysuckle was removed from behind the Colonnade at Concourse Park, it created a clearing for criminal activity, which has ranged from suspected drug use to prostitution to individuals spending the night to graffiti.
“We also had a theft earlier this summer of picnic tables from the Concourse,” Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association President Leslie Caplan said. “We think all those things are tied together and if we can eliminate that hiding spot, then the park and Colonnade would be used by people who want to use it for the right purposes.”
Earlier in August, Kansas City Police Department used community service workers to clean the area behind the Colonnade, which resulted in 21 bags of trash, seven tires and a barbecue grill, KCPD Community Interaction Officer Jason Cooley said.
“They were having a good time back there,” he said.
Other items found included ziplock bags, condoms and empty alcohol bottles.
To combat the negative uses of the park, Cooley suggested the neighborhood plant bushes with thorns that attract bees and hornets. It’s called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).
“The whole concept behind hostile landscape is making the area as inhospitable as possible,” Cooley said. “Nobody’s going to want to go back there and be there for anything period when they risk getting poked and cut up and scratched, etc. We’re making the area as uncomfortable as possible for anybody to be able to get back there and do bad things.”
Kansas City’s Parks and Recreation Department has granted permission to the Scarritt Renaissance neighborhood to plant bushes behind the Colonnade. Caplan said the neighborhood hopes to receive donations to plant the bushes, which will include Knockout roses, blackberries and raspberries.
In addition, the Parks Department is considering improving the lighting along the Colonnade, trimming tree limbs along the Concourse as well as removing several bushes that were creating ambush points, Cooley said.
In addition to combatting crime, the new bushes will create colorful scenery and provide a source of nutrition for neighborhood residents, Caplan said.
“It would be available to residents who just want to go back there and pick berries,” she said.