Keeping an Eye Out at Public Parks - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Keeping an Eye Out at Public Parks

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East Moline Police continue to investigate after a young boy was hurt by a razor blade stuck to playground equipment in a public park Monday.

In all, they found about a dozen razor blades there at Millennium Park, right where children play.

People who live around the park tell us they want the person or people responsible caught.

A number of neighbors we talked to say that park has had problems in the past with teenagers hanging out there, sometimes misbehaving, long after the park has closed at night. But, they say, to put razor blades where children play - whether it was a teenage prank or not - is a whole different story.

It's one that has a lot of people very upset.

"I'm not sure of the mindset of the people that did that or why they would want to do that," said Don Henderson, who lives in the subdivision across the street from Millennium Park.

"If they can do that and little bitty kids get hurt, that's just not right," said Betty Adams, another neighbor up the street.

"I don't want to see little kids getting hurt, that's senseless," said another neighbor, Kathy Woodward.

"It's not moral and it's not right," agreed Justin Adams.

And now, at least some parents and grandparents who live near the park say they're thinking twice about bringing their young ones back there to play.

"I'm probably going to choose a different park because you never know what's going to happen. They could have stuff under the wood chips, too," Justin Adams said.

That concern is turning into action for some. We're told the neighborhood watch is actively recruiting volunteers.

"I think it's everybody's responsibility to take action in their own community," Henderson said.

That's a mission Kurt Weiler, a long time volunteer with the Bettendorf Park Ambassador program, takes to heart.

"This is an activity I found that I like, and I keep coming back," he said, adding that this year will be his tenth volunteering for the Bettendorf Parks and Recreation program.

Weiler is one of about two dozen volunteers who take turns during the summer months driving and walking through all of Bettendorf's parks in the evenings.

"They do a great job. They're proactive eyes out there in the parks," said Steve Grimes, Bettendorf Parks and Recreation Director.

And, while parks and rec officials say vandalism like overturned trash cans and graffiti can still be an issue, they say nothing more serious has happened at their park, thanks in large part to the Park Ambassadors on patrol.

"I think it's had a real positive impact. It's another set of eyes and ears for the police and also for our park maintenance guys," Grimes said, "and a lot of people have been assisted by a variety of different things the ambassadors have helped with."

"If you have any desire to volunteer, this is probably one of the best things you can volunteer for," Weiler said.

"They do a lot more than watching for damage and those sorts of things. They're also helping citizens find the shelter, or if they've got a child that's lost, or things like that. They're always helping to give a better experience for the park users," Grimes explained.

Whether they're Park Ambassadors or just park patrons, people across the QCA are being urged to keep their eyes open and report anything suspicious at their local parks to police, especially in light of what happened at Millennium Park.

"I have kids, and not that age anymore, but it would infuriate me if my kids got hurt because of some stupid act like that," Weiler said.

After the razor blades were discovered at Millennium Park, parks and rec crews across the QCA fanned out across their own parks, checking for any dangers.

None reported having found anything.

Grimes says the Bettendorf parks and rec department regularly inspects all of its equipment, and the volunteer Park Ambassadors are also helpful in spotting any potential problems.

More volunteers are always needed for that program and orientation sessions will be held soon.

If you'd like to get involved in Bettendorf's Park Ambassador program, you can call City Hall or go to the city's website to fill out an application.

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