The struggle to preserve Cunningham Park’s safety and sanctity amidst teen gatherings

Cunningham Park video with quotes from security
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The struggle to preserve Cunningham Park’s safety and sanctity amidst teen gatherings

Milton’s Cunningham Park Foundation and security recently released a video contrasting the dangerous and the idyllic in Cunningham Park:

Nestled in the heart of Milton lies a treasured haven of recreational respite and community unity – Cunningham Park. For over a century, this private oasis, generously maintained by a charitable foundation, has stood as a testament to the enduring importance of outdoor activities and communal bonding.

However, as the sun sets, the park’s idyllic image morphs into a disconcerting reality, as the woods come alive with activities that paint a stark contrast to its daytime charm.

The persistent challenge of “the woods” of  Cunningham Park is not novel. For years, trespassing youths have infiltrated the park’s premises after dark. Yet, recent times have ushered in an era of unprecedented recklessness and violence, leaving both residents and park officials deeply concerned. The videos captured on cell phones, shared widely on social media platforms earlier this year, expose the mayhem that unfolds in the park’s wooded areas during these nights.

The park’s nighttime security reports paint a disturbing portrait of the situation. Between the months of March and June, the local police and fire departments have responded to disturbances in the park’s woods a staggering 100 times.

This surge in incidents encompasses a range of alarming issues, from burns and broken bones to vandalism, sexual assaults, and physical altercations. The atmosphere that once echoed with laughter and camaraderie has given way to an environment tainted by danger and fear.

The culprits behind this transformation are often groups of teenagers, who, bolstered by the conveniences of modern technology such as texting and rideshare apps, can swiftly gather from both Milton and its neighboring communities. This convergence of youth, fueled by a quest for thrill and adventure, has ignited a cycle of chaos that threatens both the tranquility of Cunningham Park and the well-being of its young visitors.

Here’s what Milton Neighbors had to say about the video:

“…There are a lot of people in this town that believe that whole Cunningham Park thing is a right of passage . They will tell you they did it when they were a kid and they have memories there and it’s not a big deal. Having walked our dogs there multiple times with our child as well shaking our heads at this Milton tradition. The pit. Sexual assault is new thing I didn’t know was happening there.”

“Have conversations with the teens in your life and your peers. Having fun does not have to include alcohol or other drugs, or trespassing. Let’s work together to provide space and programming so that teens can socialize and make memories without the high levels of risk that come with these gatherings. This is a complex problem and it will take time – but we can do it!! “

“I am sure it is not just kids from Milton anymore either.”

“So worrisome. Maybe the town needs to offer parenting programs? How can a parent not know there child was out from 1-5am?”

Read more in this recent Milton Neighbors conversation.

In the face of this escalating challenge, it is imperative for the Milton community to rally together. While the allure of the park’s woods might seem irresistible to teenagers seeking independence and connection, it is the responsibility of parents and guardians to shed light on the true nature of the nighttime activities. Conversations about the perils of alcohol, clear delineation of expectations, and active involvement in guiding their children towards safer alternatives are critical steps in ensuring that their pursuit of fun doesn’t come at the cost of their safety.

Cunningham Park has played an integral role in shaping the lives of generations, offering them a platform to bond with nature, foster friendships, and create cherished memories. The challenge now is to ensure that these memories are not marred by perilous escapades. It’s time for the community to stand united against the dangerous activities, to open channels of dialogue, and to collaborate on solutions that provide the youth with opportunities for expression and interaction that do not carry undue risk.

Preserving Cunningham Park’s sanctity requires a collective effort to illuminate the shadows cast by these nocturnal activities. By bridging the gap between generations, advocating for safer alternatives, and instilling a sense of responsibility in both young and old, Milton can reaffirm the park’s status as a haven of joy, camaraderie, and cherished memories for generations to come. The choice is ours to make – to ensure that the sun never truly sets on the safety and vitality of Cunningham Park.

Do you want to help with alternative spaces/programming for teens?

Email the Milton Youth Task Force at [email protected].

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