Fighting Gangs With Better Parks - KTUL.com - Tulsa, Oklahoma - News, Weather & Sports

Fighting Gangs With Better Parks

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Visit Clark park in East Tulsa, and you'll not only see the carefree signs of recreation, you'll see the worrisome signs of gangs.

"As you can tell like every day, they mark on the walls," said Jimena Castanares, happy to learn that the city has $700,000 from a charitable trust for improving three parks in neighborhoods whose kids are at greatest risk for gang involvement. Kids like Jimena's 15 year-old brother.

"Well, we always tell him how he needs to stay away from like if they offer him drugs and stuff, cause there's like a lot, especially our race, there's a lot of gang related stuff with Mexicans you know? So we try to keep him away from that," she said.

The money will go towards things like a new splash pad, benches and picnic tables, a new themed playground, and parking lot improvements and a disc golf course. Improvements yes, but do they go far enough?

"If you're trying to stop gang violence, a disc golf or something like that, it's not going to be the target," said Tulsa city councilor Jack Henderson. He and many of his constituents have been pushing to have the rec center at BC Franklin re-opened, and say these new funds could ad to existing money set aside for the park.

"And that money has been already told to the community it's setting there, we also found some other money that I found that's going towards that same effort, and plus this money, there's no reason why this rec center should not be open," he said.

A push for better parks, to help fight a problem felt all across town.

"Gang violence is city wide, it's not North Tulsa, East Tulsa, South Tulsa, it's all of Tulsa," he said.

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