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Human Rights group joins Hillside Park discussion

Public hearing set for today at 6 p.m.

GREENFIELD — The town’s Human Rights Commission will hold a public hearing on today at 6 p.m. in Town Hall to discuss public and private initiatives proposed to maintain the safety in Hillside Park.

Chairman Lewis Metaxas said the commission will also discuss how to keep the park vibrant by residents using it and by the town and other organizations holding events there.

“The Human Rights Commission has been involved with investigating and advocating against the proliferation of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti at Hillside Park since May 2012, when swastikas were first discovered there,” said Metaxas.

He said the commission worked with the recreation department, police and public works at the time to help eradicate the problem.

“In September 2013, it was discovered that this problem had returned with associated increased vandalism,” said Metaxas. “Since then, numerous public and private proposals have come forth to help alleviate the problems at Hillside Park.”

Metaxas said the commission will continue an already public discussion about enhancing lighting in the park, increase police patrols there, using citizen patrols, installing video cameras and holding events there, including concerts and plays.

He said the commission will also talk about possibilities for a skate park or dog park to be located there at some point in the future, and about neighborhood watches.

“The public hearing will seek to refine, clarify and recommend some of these proposal and best practices based on citizen and local government input,” said Metaxas. “The commission will seek to explore how government and private groups may partner to further these goals.”

He said the commission will also look into how to fund some of the proposals, should the town decide to move forward with any of them.

“Our community is right at the cusp of turning this around,” said Metaxas about taking back Hillside Park. “I hope that people give it some further thought and join the discussion.”

Mayor William Martin and Margaret Betts, the resident who recently brought the Hillside Park matter before the Town Council, will be the commission’s guest speakers on Monday.

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