Vandalism in and around city parks is causing headaches and creating mysteries.
Recreation Superintendent Kim Peters said Monday that White’s Park has been vandalized repeatedly over the last week, and that the weekend saw incidents at Pine Hill Park and Center Street Marketplace Park.
White’s Park had tables overturned and tent stakes pulled up, according to Peters, while at Center Street Marketplace Park, someone upended tables and threw around menus on the back deck at Kelvan’s. At Pine Hill Park, the Tin Man statue was defaced, apparently with a power tool. Peters said the incidents at White’s began about two weeks ago.
“Luckily not a lot of financial damage, but they threw flower pots and stuff into the pool,” she said. “We have cameras now ... within the pool area and surrounding the pool area, but it doesn’t go out to the basketball courts, where our summer camps are.”
That area, where Peters said tents and tables are set up for the outdoor adventure summer day camps, was trashed four out of five nights last week. Counselors arriving at 7:15 a.m., she said, have had to scramble to be ready for the arrival of children at 7:30.
“The stakes are broken,” she said. “They throw tables into the woods. The police are down there when they can be, but it’s difficult.”
Peters said the fencing at the park is aimed at keeping out vehicular traffic, not people.
“We have, right now, about 300 kids in our rec programs today,” she said. “We rely on our sites looking good.”
Peters said she was not sure if any damage was done in the incident at Kelvan’s, but that some lights were stolen. She said Center Street Marketplace Park — formerly known as the Center Street Alley — is typically locked once the restaurants opening onto it have closed for the evening. Kelvan’s was closed on Monday and the owners could not be immediately reached for comment.
At Pine Hill Park, a heart was etched into the chest of the Tin Man with what appeared to be the letters “MS” inside it. The etching on the depiction of the “Wizard of Oz” character looked to have been initially written in marker, and writing in the same color above the heart read “Not Forgot.” What appeared to be a prom photo, printed on heavy paper, was stuck in the Tin Man’s hand.
Pine Hill Partnership President Shelly Lutz said the engraving looked like it had been done with a grinding wheel or a Dremel.
“Something that was battery powered,” she said. “I was so irate. ... I’m not sure what’s going to transpire to get rid of it.”
Lutz said she had not seen the photo when she looked at the damage. She said the Partnership was reaching out to sculptor Jed Danyow, who made the Tin Man, about repairing it.
Police Chief Brian Kilcullen said neither the Kelvan’s or Pine Hill Park incidents had been reported to police as of Monday afternoon, but that the department had been trying to keep an eye on White’s Park.
“We’re certainly up there every night,” he said. “Obviously, we’re not up there all night long, but we are patrolling.”
Kilcullen said officers would have a “strongly worded conversation” with anyone they find at the park after hours.