Repeated vandalism at lakes, parks costing the city

Friday, June 3, 2016

Reported damage to some city parks and lakes over the Memorial Day weekend have left city officials "frustrated."

City staff this week discovered evidence of vandalism at Fort Scott Lake and Rock Creek Lake, and also at the James B. Tedesco Memorial Skatepark, City Manager Dave Martin said Wednesday.

Martin said tracks from people "driving around doing donuts" in the lake areas were found. He also said there was damage to a sign at the skatepark from someone apparently throwing an object at the sign.

"It just frustrates me," Martin said. "We try to have nice places and people tear them up.

"It costs the city a tremendous amount of money, time and effort to fix that vandalism. It costs about $250 a pop for those signs."

Estimated cost of total damages, including labor needed to make repairs, is about $2,500 to $3,000 "for one weekend," Martin said.

"It's easy to say there is $3,000 to $4,000 in vandalism in the city within a year," he said. "And there's no excuse for it ... the average citizen is paying for it."

Kenny Howard, the city's airport and lakes manager, said Wednesday damaged areas included the west side of Fort Scott Lake, as well as the east entryway and a park on the east side of the lake.

"They're driving through yards, doing donuts and tearing the grass out," he said.

Howard said there were other damages as well.

"Then people are tearing boards off picnic tables and off the pavilion and using them for firewood," he said. "They're stealing signs that are up for camping. Those are starting to disappear. The other issue we have are the fiberglass lids on the trash cans and people setting them on fire. They stuff things down in the trash can and it burns off the fiberglass lids. We have three of those that have been burned."

Howard said city staff are "having the same issues at Rock Creek Lake."

"They're ripping the grass out. We've had several signs disappear over there. Or they smash signs and break the post off. They have burned trash cans over there too so we have no lids over there."

Howard said most of the damage is "cosmetic," but the city has to fix and pay for the signs and other damages.

"We'll wait for the grass to grow back," he said.