Reddin Belk, Pallad City Post

Over the last decade crime, graffiti, and decay have become notorious buzzwords to describe the condition of Pallad City Park. Once known for its lush greenery, marble architecture, and immaculate upkeep, the park has since deteriorated into a haven fit only for criminal activity and undesirables who peddle drugs, prostitution, and other illicit goods. Over the years, the park became infamous for attracting those who turned the area into their own decadent playground—graffiti sprawled over every available surface, the duck pond a receptacle for beer and soda cans, the fountain a personal bath for vagrants. For most residents, Pallad City Park had permanently transformed into a derelict shadow of its once green, former glory, and with little hope of restoration. Many avoided the area, with the common belief that walking in the park—especially at night—was akin to taking one’s life into their own hands.

A year ago, the unexpected happened—Mayor Neville launched his “Renew Initiative” with the promise of ‘cleaning up’ the city, an effort that included full restoration of the long-ignored Pallad City Park. Many dismissed the Mayor’s initiative as hollow campaign promises but, within the last four months, graffiti as been scrubbed away, the Pioneer Bridge sports a new coat of paint, the grass has been mowed, trees trimmed, and the pond has finally been cleaned. Last month the Betacourt Stadium hosted its first concert in twelve years. People are now returning to Pallad City Park, without fear that they could end up another statistic.

However, some are concerned that this is only a temporary bandaid for a much larger underlying problem. The criminal element that so long permeated throughout the park seems to have sulked deeper into the shadows—but hasn’t vanished. The police continue their struggle to break up the illegal activities that originally led to the park’s decline, and that’s something no amount of fresh paint can cover up. Between a shortage of officers and lacking a sufficient budget, the Pallad City Police Department is barely able to handle the rising crime rates, making the park a low-priority. Few, if any, patrols are sent to the park during the day or night, allowing criminals to resume their activity with virtual impunity.

Time will tell if Mayor Neville’s initiative can keep Pallad City Park in its newly restorative condition, or if it’s only a matter of time before we see the park reclaim its notorious reputation.

Danger Zone One. Story by Midnight. Art by Sikretwepon.