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Parks to install cameras to fight vandalism

Aquatics center in Springfield tagged with graffiti 38 times.

The National Trail Parks and Recreation District will install surveillance cameras to increase security in its parks following a streak of vandalism this spring.

“It’s something that we’re fighting every single day,” National Trail director Leann Castillo said during a recent meeting discussing security options to combat the vandalism.

Graffiti was sprayed painted last month on 38 places at Splash Zone Family Aquatics Center, including inside and outside of the slides and on top of the pump houses. Vandals also left graffiti on the district’s skate ramps, fences and walls, as well as on fences at Carleton Davidson Stadium on Mitchell Boulevard, according to police reports.

The crimes also included several thefts. A Chevy Suburban owned by National Trail was stolen, and when recovered, the vehicle had been burned.

Car batteries have been stolen out of vehicles and bleachers have been stolen from one of the parks. Then on Friday a break-in was reported at Snyder Park in a golf course maintenance building, where two four-wheel service vehicles and several tools were taken.

National Trail plans to purchase security cameras for about $1,000, with the first installation likely happening in the next few weeks.

“We’re looking into cameras that record,” Castillo said.

The cameras will be placed in areas that have had the most vandalism, including Splash Zone, both of the golf maintenance buildings and the baseball stadium.

The parks district is still calculating the total cleanup and replacement costs for the recent spate of crimes. Some damage hasn’t been fixed, Castillo said, and some stolen items haven’t been replaced.

Several park visitors said they agreed with installing the cameras, saying they were necessary to prevent further vandalism.

“Some people consider it an invasion of privacy, but it’s a public facility,” said Ed Dressler, of Yellow Springs, while he was visiting Snyder Park on Friday. “I feel it’s very important in this day and age.”

Robin Allison, another visitor to Snyder Park on Friday, agreed.

“It’s really sad for kids to do,” she said. “There is so much for them to do and the kids don’t realize it.”

New Carlisle has had graffiti problems, too. According to Howard Kitko, service director in New Carlisle, the city has cleaned up graffiti about twice a year by using a removal machine borrowed from the city of Springfield.

However, vandalism hasn’t been a significant problem in the rural parks of Clark County.

“We have not had any difficulty in the Clark County Park District. Every now and then we have a little tagging,” said Jim Campbell, executive director and chief ranger of the district.

The state parks such as Buck Creek State Park also have had less trouble with graffiti and thefts, due to more staff members, said Heidi Hetzel-Evans of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The occasional problems that the state parks have tend to be in highly visited urban areas, according to Hetzel-Evans.

“We have a lot of folks who are paying attention to what is happening in our state parks,” she said.

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