Sunday, January 16, 2022
Jan. 16, 2022

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National Night Out brings neighbors, law enforcement together

By , Columbian Small Cities Reporter

Families from several central Vancouver neighborhoods came together Tuesday evening in Water Works Park to celebrate National Night Out.

It was one of a handful of gatherings throughout the county to mark the annual event, which promotes bringing community members and police together to help prevent crime in their own neighborhoods. The cities of Ridgefield, La Center and the town of Yacolt held their own events, as well, each with their own festivities.

At Water Works Park, children and their parents stood in a circle and took turns passing around a ball and telling each other how they would like to see the place change in the coming years.

“The kids were coming up with really good ideas,” said Heather England, a community health worker from the Rose Village neighborhood.

Some participants suggested improving paths for walking and biking, sprucing up the skate park, planting more trees or even removing invasive plants. And for some, the most important priority is keeping the bathrooms clean and safe.

Residents and neighborhood association leaders from the Central Park, Rose Village, Maplewood, Harney Heights and Fourth Plain Village neighborhoods showed up to mingle with their families and friends. It was the first time so many neighborhood associations had come together to organize anything for National Night Out.

For the few dozen who showed up to the 20-acre park, the place is a perfect reflection of what the day is all about.

The reputation of Water Works Park has suffered over the years, as it’s become known as a frequent hangout for vagrants. Its bathroom facilities are often targets of vandalism, and many lament that the park has become unsafe and a popular place for public drug abuse.

But change begins with things like National Night Out, England said.

“I’m not sure how we can make it safer, other than having more events like this,” she said. “The more we get together with everybody, the more we’re going to find out what we need in the neighborhood.”

Columbian Small Cities Reporter