The Township of Franklin, New Jersey, participated in the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) Complete Streets Technical Assistance (CSTA) Program in 2020. The CSTA Program selected eight municipalities to receive up to $10,000 in technical assistance to advance complete streets projects. This report identifies several recommendations to promote the use of Naaman Williams Memorial Park, a 17-acre active park located alongside the eastern border of Franklin Township in Somerset County. The Township applied for technical assistance with an overall goal of helping to address real and perceived personal safety concerns in the park via a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) Audit and Site Assessment.
Due to COVID-19 and restrictions on public gatherings, the CSTA team and Franklin Township staff agreed to a modified and yet expanded approach which included a technical memo providing background on the project area; an educational webinar; a two-phased CPTED audit and site assessments; a community survey; and a final report and recommendations. With the exception of the CPTED municipal website and community survey, the majority of this report focuses on the findings from the Phase 1 and Phase 2 CPTED audit & site assessments.
The most noted challenges/observations from the Phase 1 – Franklin Township Resident CPTED Audit and Assessment included: illegal dumping; alcohol and drug use; drug dealing; gun violence; gang activity; overgrown vegetation; park wetlands; police harassment; lack of security; tension between neighboring towns; and lighting spilling from the park into the homes along Mark Street. The resident recommendations included: installing security cameras in and around the park that could be monitored remotely; increasing routine police patrols; improving management of the wetlands area by providing access through trails, or, conversely, restricting access through fencing; closing or relocating the park; organizing community clean ups; installing enhanced lighting in and around the park; and establishing a police substation within the park with dedicated officers who can become more familiar with park users.
Participants expressed a desire for increased surveillance within the park, which could be achieved through security cameras or drones, regular management and maintenance of bushes and hedges, and community education about recognizing and reporting suspicious behavior.
The Phase 2 – CPTED Audit and Assessment highlighted issues associated with enhancing first-, second-, and third generation CPTED elements such as natural surveillance, natural access control, territorial reinforcement, image maintenance and management, legitimate activity support, geographical juxtaposition, and complete streets. Key recommendations include: institutionalizing CPTED via a newly-formed Franklin Township task force; advancing and prioritizing complete streets implementation; installing cameras at strategic locations around and within the park; developing and/or adhering to a routine maintenance plan; installing decorative park entrance and wayfinding signage; encouraging law enforcement to patrol the area on foot; developing a branding and marketing plan for the park; considering additional year-round and nighttime programming activities and events; installing LED lighting; and promoting social cohesion, community connectivity, community culture, and inclusivity.