IT’S Lithgow’s showplace venue for family relaxation and a big attraction for visitors but Queen Elizabeth Park is being increasingly blighted by anti social behaviour by teenagers.
In a disturbing escalation of loutish activity an attempt was made this week to set fire to one of the items of playground equipment.
Mid afternoon on Wednesday a visitor from Canberra observed a noisy group of young people in the playground then a flash of flame followed by a distinct smell of burning plastic.
Police and a council ranger were soon on the scene but the offenders fled through a hole in the southern boundary fence and ran across the Club Lithgow car park to disappear among shoppers at the Valley Plaza.
When the Mercury visited the playground mid morning yesterday the evidence was clear on the equipment beneath the shade cloth.
A portion of the plastic surface was burnt and bubbled and nearby were several packets that had contained a type of fireworks (sparklers) that are still legally available.
The ground where small children play each day was littered with cigarette packets, soft drink cans, food wrappings and dropped confectionery that could easily tempt a child.
Nearby on the grass was an undamaged Lithgow High School uniform polo shirt.
Witnesses to the vandalism said however that none of the offenders appeared to be wearing any form of school uniform.
Most identifiable was a boy in a red shirt and white cap.
At the time the Mercury inspected the site mid morning Wednesday there was a boy in school uniform sitting on a bench at the playground quietly smoking.
Adjacent to the playground area a large section of mesh has been removed from the boundary fence in recent months, providing a quick escape route for anyone involved in misbehaviour.
It is stressed that it is a relatively small group creating trouble.
But virtually every afternoon young people gather at the rotunda in the park and although no vandalism has been reported at that location the amount of litter left behind — even including condoms — is disturbing.
There is a litter bin just a few steps away.
There are frequent complaints from members of the public about the behaviour of teenagers around the playground when small children are present.
“They take over the equipment from the little kids and the language even from the young girls is dreadful,” one woman told the Mercury.
She said the situation had become so bad and so common that she had stopped taking her three year old niece to the park.
For years residents have also complained of noisy late night drinking parties creating a disturbance in the park.
They believe security cameras and more regular security patrols are needed.
FOOTNOTE: The park this evening will be the venue for twilight markets and Lithglo with hundreds of people expected to attend.