Public vigilance is the answer to park vandalism

Public vigilance is the answer to park vandalism

The Issue: There isn’t a single Carlinville park that hasn’t been a target of vandalism.

Our View: Vigilance and reporting suspicious activity are key in addressing the problem.

CARLINVILLE (Nov. 9, 2017) – Few people will argue that, for a small, rural community, Carlinville has one of the best park systems anywhere in the state. Not only are there several parks, they are well maintained and help support a wide variety of activities.

All gates aside, there’s little argument that there’s something for everyone in Carlinville’s parks. There are baseball, softball and soccer fields; basketball courts; a fitness path; playground equipment that accommodates the disabled; picnic areas; skate ramps; a pool; and both indoor and outdoor organized athletic leagues.

While there have been lots of comments regarding money spent on the Loveless Park gate, there have been very few comments about the seemingly endless problem of vandalism in Carlinville’s parks.

From the graffiti that turned up in Tom Thumb Park, which defaced playground equipment that was purchased at a cost of about $40,000, to people who find it necessary to park and drive on the grass in Loveless Park, the plague of vandalism is endless. In fact, the gate in Loveless Park would have not been considered if someone hadn’t stolen the speed bumps installed in the park’s access road to slow down traffic.

While there’s no argument that it is the job of the park district and the board to maintain the city’s parks, the task should not require 24-hour park security to get the job done.

The city’s vandals have left the Park Board no choice but to take a hard stance on the issue. A few years ago, a teen drove a truck through Denby Park, leaving deep tracks through the park grounds. In an effort to give the youth a break, the board didn’t press charges and struck an agreement with the teen’s parents that the family would repair the damage come spring. Well, the family did not keep up their end of the bargain. At the time, the Macoupin County Enquirer-Democrat was critical when the board struck that deal. It is our position that it is the job of the Park Board to be stewards of the city’s property and protect the city’s investments in them. The public should not expect similar leniency moving forward.

There isn’t a single city park that hasn’t had issues with vandalism. What is troubling, especially with Tower Grove and Tom Thumb parks, which are surrounded by private homes, is no one seems willing to keep an eye on their neighborhood asset in an effort to catch the culprits in action.

While catching the criminals red handed isn’t always likely, it would be nice if those living near the parks would keep their eyes open for suspicious activity and report it. At the very least, it would be nice if residents would make a point of noting the descriptions of those doing the damage.

Even though it’s not unexpected for citizens to not want to get involved or to just not pay attention to what is happening across the street, just as you would want a neighbor to report suspicious activity taking place on your property, you should give city parks the same consideration. After all, those parks belong to you, too.

Carlinville’s parks increase the value of the homes around them. They make Carlinville a better place and can be a determining factor for those who make the decision to move here. Vigilance on the part of Carlinville residents can put a stop or, at least, curb the vandalism taking place in city parks.

We’re asking the public to pay attention to what takes place in our city parks. After all, there’s really not much point in working to improve them if those improvements will just be destroyed.