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Hickory hopes cameras deter park problems

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  Vandalism is on the decline at a small Hickory Hills park thanks to security cameras that were installed several weeks ago, a park district official said.
  Prairie View Park, a four-acre park located near 82nd Avenue and 85th Street, has long been plagued by vandalism, said park district Director Jennifer Fullerton.
  The park board spent $8,000 to purchase the cameras, which were designed to stem the ongoing problem, she said.
  “We’ve always had a lot of vandalism there,” said Fullerton, who said the park’s remote location is appealing to vandals.
  She said the district appealed to residents who live near the park for help, but no one came forward with information about the vandalism.
  The park was closed for several months four years ago after someone spread paint shavings and dust on the playground equipment, Fullerton said. A hazmat team was called in to clean up the damage.
  Since that time, the district maintenance staff faced an uphill battle cleaning graffiti off the playground equipment, sometimes spending 30 hours a week on the task.
  “In time, it will be less expensive to have the cameras,” she said.
  The graffiti is not gang related.
  “Sometimes, you don’t know what it says,” Fullerton said.
  The three security cameras include night-vision and facial-recognition capabilities. They run 24 hours a day and can store images for up to seven days.
  Similar cameras located in another Hickory Hills park helped police catch someone who was damaging property, Fullerton said.
  Prairie View Park features two play structures; one designed for older children while the other features is equipment for preschool-age children. The park also has swing sets and a gazebo.
  Hickory Hills parks are open from dawn to dusk. The district relies on police and weekend security in addition to the cameras to ward off vandals, Fullerton said.