Fourth ward neighbors say loiterers have driven children out of playground

Neighbors say park isn't safe

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The sign next to the Ninth Street Park is marked “children at play,” but children are not there often.

“People who have children don’t want to walk around there,” neighbor Leyla says.

Within the park fence there is a playground and benches, however there is not much climbing, swinging or sliding.

“I discourage them from going there and I have them go to Fourth Ward [Park] or another place,” Leyla says of her children.

People who live on Fourth Ward’s Ninth Street say within the year, they’ve seen more people loitering, doing things they shouldn’t be – especially at the playground area.

“They will approach people and threaten people,” neighbor Larry says. “They’re very noisy, and there is a lot of litter.”

And it’s not just any kind of litter.

“Garbage and beer cans and paper bags,” she says.

“It’s a playground, and I’ve seen like condoms,” a man who wishes to stay anonymous says.

Some attribute the problem to nearby convenience stores selling malt liquor, and a vacant building next to the park.

“They seem to congregate right down there on the corner,” Larry says.

They say security has stepped up, and officers come when called, but there’s only so much they can do.

“It takes a lot of effort to call them when they’re literally there every day,” the man who wishes to stay anonymous says.

Some have taken matters into their own hands, picking up the trash. Those neighbors think that’s likely a step in the right direction – to take back the park as a community.

“The more people who go there from the neighborhood, or surrounding neighborhoods, the less likely you’re going to have people who shouldn’t be there drinking or doing drugs,” Leyla says.

“Parents with young children have to intentionally go there, and essentially occupy it,” neighbor Tom Fennimore says.

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