- Project: Smythesdale Gardens Lighting and Safety Project
- Organisation: Smythesdale Progress Association
- Grant fund: Community Safety Fund
- Grant amount: $2126
- Organisation contribution: $219.46
An association passionate about their community and safety has transformed an unsafe park into a garden and camping ground popular with locals and visitors alike.
The Smythesdale Public Gardens are an historic part of Smythesdale, being the former botanical gardens created in the 1850s. More recently, community members have avoided the badly lit site as it was a hot spot for antisocial behaviour. For many years Smythesdale Progress Association volunteers have undertaken major clean ups of the area to remove broken glass and rubbish, clean off graffiti and repair buildings.
As the manager of the gardens, the Smythesdale Progress Association and its active volunteers wanted to implement solutions that increased community ownership of the gardens rather than increase physical security. They opted for better lighting and protective security measures to attract responsible users and organised community functions.
In 2012, new lighting was added and a secure protective cage was placed around the barbeque gas bottles to encourage people to use the children’s playground and sheltered barbeque area on the weekend and evenings. Also, a keypad entry system to the showers was installed to encourage camping.
The response to the safety improvements has been fantastic. Reports to local police of vandalism and antisocial behaviour are significantly less than previous years. The association hasn’t received any complaints about antisocial behaviour and there have been no major clean ups or repairs required. Finally, camping bookings have greatly increased and more family groups and casual visitors are using the facilities, dramatically improving safety.
This project is a prime example of how improving the quality of an environment can activate a place. By increasing natural surveillance and encouraging community ownership of the gardens, the space is now attracting more people at different times. This has in turn reduced the opportunity for crime.