MOUNT VERNON — The city has seen an increase in vandalism in the local parks since last year, said Scott Zimmerman, assistant foreman for the parks and public lands department.
“The parks have been getting worse and worse,” he said.
In 2009, 10 vandalism cases were reported to the Mount Vernon Police Department, excluding several minor incidents not reported.
“So far this year we’ve had 15 reports of vandalism to the police department,” said Zimmerman.
Some incidents indicate that it could possibly be the same person(s). Zimmerman spoke specifically of the concession stand at Memorial Park that has been hit three times over the past two years.
“It looks like they took a large prying bar to destroy the door,” he said. “And what we end up having to do is go back in and install a new door to try and make it as secure as possible.”
Records show that most of the reported vandalism has taken place at Memorial Park. In July, not only was damage done to the concession stand door but also it the windows, although nothing was reported stolen. The following month, the park’s new men’s bathroom was vandalized and the ceramic sink was torn from the wall.
City parks officially close on Nov. 15, although residents maintain access on foot. According to reports, less than 10 days after Memorial Park closed to motor traffic, vandals broke all the windows in the men’s and women’s bathrooms.
“It takes quite a blow to knock the glass blocks out because they’re heavy and not easy to break. It took some time and effort by whoever has done it,” Zimmerman said.
As a precautionary measure, the city has added security lights in order to deter vandalism. “I think it’s helped to cut down the vandalism,” said Zimmerman. “But unless someone is there to see them do it, and during this time of year the parks aren’t heavily traveled, there’s nobody to turn them in. It’s a difficult situation. I do hope down the road we can get some cameras. I think that would help deter and even help to catch a few of them.”
Records also indicate vandalism at Phillips Park including several smashed security lights as well as a teeter-totter board broken and graffiti. A shed at Riverside Park was broken into, although nothing was reported stolen.