North city public park closed over safety, security concerns

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - Summer is here but kids find themselves locked out of their own neighborhood park in north St. Louis.

Summit Place Park near West Florissant and Riverview has been a magnet for crime, residents said. It's a little oasis in a high-crime area.

The park replaced a run-down house 15 years ago. With all the criminal activity there, the gates were locked last June.

Residents don't want to be locked out for a second straight summer.

The park was forced to shut down.

“Shut it down for safety. Then when the parks people come and clean it up they find needles, alcohol bottles,” said nearby resident Maryann Jackson.

A walk through Thursday quickly turned up evidence: empty baggies from marijuana use, broken glass, a used condom, lighters, and blunt wrappers.

Jackson called on police to clean out the crime before the park reopened.

“We’ve got residents, senior citizens want to come over here and just sit. I’d like to come up here and just sit. That used to be my favorite bench over there just to sit back and relax. We had too much shooting in here. We had too much drug activity,” she said.

“If the kids want to play, let the kids play,” said Gary Rogers, who frequently visits his sister who lives across the street from the park.

It wasn’t safe for kids to be locked out, Rogers said. He called for the park to be opened right away and to let police handle the crime as it came.

“My niece and nephew ride his bike. He falls off his bike. Cars are speeding up and down this alley. That’s like a highway, this alley back here,” Rogers said.

“We really need help over here,” Jackson said.

The City’s Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) owns the property, said Alderman Chris Carter. Residents were feuding over control of the locks, he said.

Carter said he plans to bring the property under control of the Parks Department and said the locks could be gone within days.