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By Sandy Brundage
Almanac Staff Writer
When the county first said that Flood Park might have to close permanently, residents worried about their safety as well as the loss of a popular community resource. Twenty-one acres of empty space in the middle of a neighborhood seems like a prime target for crime.
However, data provided by the Menlo Park Police Department suggests that the park, which sits between Bay Road and the Bayshore Freeway, has not turned into a magnet for crime since it was closed in September to let the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission install a water pipeline.
The Almanac looked at the number and type of crimes reported from September through March for the past four years. Crime peaked during the months immediately before the closure, with double the number of incidents compared to the average 12 reported during the same time period in 2007, 2008, and 2009.
Out of the 26 reported crimes from September 2009 through March 2010, there were nine vandalisms and seven unlicensed drivers.
School holidays might be a better predictor of crime than park closures. "For the vandalisms, they were victims reporting slashed tires," said police spokesperson Nicole Acker. "There was no suspect information provided, so it would be a guess as to what happened. Most of them happened the week of Christmas, so it could have been juveniles on break."
San Mateo County may shut down Flood Park if Menlo Park doesn't agree to take over management. Running the park costs the county $205,000 per year, money that the county can no longer afford in light of the need to cut 10 percent from its general fund operating budget.