A $1,000 reward is offered for information
Farmington’s Wilson Rozier Park, 811 Perrine Road, is home to a ballpark, two pavilions, two playgrounds, two tennis courts, one multi-use court, multiple picnic tables with BBQ grills, and areas for futsal and basketball.
Farmington has 17 community parks, and Wilson Rozier is one of the larger parks in the city. It also happens to be the most recent site of costly vandalism that took place over the Veterans Day weekend.
Parks and Recreation Director Doug Stotler was disappointed and perplexed when he spoke about the problem.
“I’ve been here in Parks and Recreation for about a year and a half,” he said. “The vandalism seems to run in cycles during the warmer months, and most of it occurs in the parks. At one point, we even had a report of an individual with a hatchet chopping at one of the wooden support beams at a pavilion.”
“Not at a specific park, but in general, we deal with problems in the bathrooms — we have toilet paper jammed in the toilets, paper towels thrown everywhere with water sprayed on the floor, and it just creates such a mess and puts the bathrooms out of order. On the parking lots, we have cars that leave burnout marks or tear through the asphalt with ‘drifting’ stunts. In the grassy areas, there are intentional ruts that have been carved into the ground by cars or trucks. Porta-Potties have been damaged by being turned over.”
Engler Park, with its “everyone plays” all-inclusive playground, hasn’t been immune to the vandalism.
The sensory-friendly play area has a xylophone that generates soothing tones that provide a calming effect on children who suffer from environmental overstimulation. The mallets have been stolen several times, and percussion tiles have been removed, rendering the instrument useless. Swings with special seats to accommodate children with motor skill deficits have been destroyed several times.
“Several of the playgrounds have had equipment that was intentionally broken,” Stotler said. “Not just at Engler Park’s playgrounds.”
According to Stotler, Wilson-Rozier has been the most recent site of the vandalism and has been the most costly.
“I’d estimate it will take $30,000 to $35,000 to make repairs and to make it usable again,” he said. “We’ve had theft of signs and the windscreens cut at the tennis court.”
Obscene graphics and vulgar language were liberally painted over most of the pickleball court, trash cans, retaining walls, basketball court, and playground equipment. Scorch marks marred the inside tube of one of the slides. Work crews were busy on Thursday afternoon attempting to scrub away or paint over the profanities so the park could be family-friendly again, but the paint doesn’t match the original colors and has left it looking less than ideal. The Farmington Police Department has arrested two individuals in relation to the incident, but the names have not been released.
Stotler asserts that the city will be taking a more proactive and aggressive approach to future acts of vandalism or damage anywhere in the city — particularly in the parks.
“I want to remind people that the City of Farmington offers a $1,000 reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of vandals,” he said. “The vandals will be prosecuted.
Citizens are urged to be aware of their surroundings, and if they witness damage being done to city property, they should not confront the individual or group but should discretely call the police and report it.
If the situation seems dangerous, the citizen should leave the scene. If it’s possible to safely take pictures or video for proof that the event occurred, it would be helpful in prosecution.
Stotler said anyone with information regarding vandalism is welcome to call him at his office, 573-756-0900.
Lisa Brotherton-Barnes is a staff writer with the Daily Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.