Crime spike causes sunset closure at Fulwood Park

The Tifton City Council voted to change Fulwood Park hours from sunrise to sunset

TIFTON, GA-  During the day Fulwood Park is a wonderful place for children, biking, running and more. However, at night the park has seen a spark in crime.

On Tuesday, January 17, 2023, the Tifton City Council voted to close Fulwood Park between dusk and dawn daily.

“I actually back them up on this decision” says Tifton resident, Aron Fletcher. “Most people wouldn’t bring their kids out that dark anyways. because with kidnapping being more common nowadays, nobody wants to have their kids out where you can’t see who’s all around and who’s actually watching your child. So at night time I agree that it should be closed for safety reasons.”

Shelby Catanzrita is a regular visitor to Fulwood park. Although she supports the councils decision, she suggests adding more lighting to the park will increase security.”

“For starters the lightest point at night time here is actually the dog park, not the playground. So even if someone were to come out here after dark you can’t see pretty much anything other than the very little lighting that you have over here. I know there’s been car break ins and people being, like, mugged  and various other things. I think for safety is best” Catanzrita says.

Luckily for Catanzrita, Tifton Mayor Julie Smith and the City of Tifton are two steps ahead. Having more security measures already in store for the park.

Although Mayor Smith was out of office on Thursday, she sent South Georgia Television a personal statement on the decision, saying:

         “With the recent events that have happened in Fulwood Park, the Tifton City Council is moving forward with an abundance of caution in order to keep our park safe for all visitors. We hope that by restricting evening hours we will be able to address the problems we’ve had and by increasing police presence, installing more cameras, and increasing lighting we will make it difficult for those who wish to do harm. Fulwood Park is a community treasure that was set aside by Tifton’s Founder, Capt Henry Harding Tift many years ago. Capt. Tift wanted this land to be a park for generations to come, so we feel it is very important to honor his request and protect those who visit the park.Once we have secured and made safe the property, we can consider extending evening hours for visitors but for now, we are looking at a sunrise to sunset time frame for the park unless it is a special event approved by the City.”

– Julie Smith, Mayor of Tifton

Tifton resident, Hallie Webb says it’s comforting knowing the City of Tifton cares about thee well-being of their citizens.

“By doing this I think the city wants it’s citizens and us personally to be safe because if we [Webb and her partner] had kids in the future it would help me be at ease with the fact that it wouldn’t put my kids in danger [or] to have like shady characters around. So, it actually puts my heart and my mind at ease to know our city is actually looking out for us” says Webb.

In her statement above, Mayor Smith described Fulwood Park as a “community treasure“, and preserving the well-being of this landmark will honor Tifton founder, Henry Harding Tift’s request of protecting the park and its visitors; which is the largest priority to her and the City of Tifton.

Mayor Smith says once they secured the park, they will consider extending operation hours. However, until then, the sunset to sunrise timeframe remains in place. Only with the exception of city-approved special events will this rule be mended.

In the meantime, violators who enter the park after hours will be subject to pay a fine or possibly sentenced to six months in jail depending on offense details.

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