The city of Waynesville has seen recently a rise in vandalism in its parks.
According to city administrator Bruce Harrill, in just the past two weeks, the parks department has had to repair extensive damages in the Roubidoux Park and in Laughlin Park. More than a dozen incidents have occurred in the last couple of weeks.
Just last week, a vandal tore off several boards on the walkway around the Roubidoux Spring.
“That is just mean damage,” said superintendent of Waynesville Parks Randy Brown. “Before we fixed it, a small child could be running and not pay attention and fall into the hole they made.”
In the Roubidoux Park restrooms, the city has had to regularly replace toilets, sinks, and just recently a vandal tore a door off the women's restroom.
“Numerous times, they've torn the sinks off the walls, broken bathroom fixtures, and broken the doors,” said Brown. “Just last week, we spent $250 just fixing the bathrooms.”
The city has also dealt with several graffiti incidents recently, with many of them containing profanity and gang symbols. Harrill said that graffiti is the most expensive act of vandalism to repair because it requires sandblasting, which is contracted work.
Harrill said that the city has spent more than $6,400 on vandalism repairs so far in 2013, and it still has a long way to go to properly fix all of the damages.
“Every minute that I spend on repairing damages from vandalism, I feel like I'm taking money away from the tax payers,” Brown said. “It's minutes that I could spend on improving the city facilities, not fixing the things that were already OK.”
Harrill reported city workers have spent 47 hours in the last couple of weeks repairing damages from vandalism.
Because of the prevalence of vandalism, the city is now offering a $500 reward for help in the successful prosecution of those involved.
“We haven't gotten to this point before, we just want to put a stop to it,” Harrill said.
While the city has increased security in the park by adding cameras and officers for patrolling, Harrill and Brown both would like citizens to stay alert and report any vandalism to the police.
“Our best bet against this is the citizens,” Brown said. “They're down there all the time and could really help us out if they see something.”
The city has recently added a tipline at (573)-774-STOP. The city would like to prosecute suspects to the “fullest extent possible” according to the City of Waynesville's Facebook page.
Page 2 of 2 - “We're trying to make progress and we're trying to do something good, but we have to spend our time cleaning up and repairing damages from vandalism,” said Harrill. “I think it's a minority of the people doing it, but it's ruining it for the majority.”