City seeks vandals

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 21, 2005

In this, “The City of the People,” the actions of a few are creating massive problems for the many as someone has repeatedly vandalized several Parks and Recreation areas to the point that some areas are no longer openly accessible.

“Vandalism at the skate park has been going on for several months, almost since it was put in,” explained Johnny Brooker with Demopolis Parks and Recreation Department. “Because of the problems, the skate park is now locked and we have a policy that anyone who wants to use it must go to City Hall and purchase a key.”

Bad deeds at the skate park, located right next to the tennis courts, have included garbage containers and benches thrown over the river bluffs and the fencing torn down.

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Now, the River Pavilion and Westside ballfields have become another focus for the vandals.

“There have been several occasions at the River Pavilion and restrooms where the toilets have been purposefully stopped up and trash strewed about,” stated Parks and Recreation director Mark Pettus in a letter to the editor. “The stalls in the ladies room were ripped apart (two weekends ago). West Side ball fields have twice been torn up by vehicles turning circles in the wet grass.”

What may seem like “harmless fun” to some costs thousands of dollars in repairs and leaves a bad image to visitors coming through during the time it takes to fix the problems.

“It’s hard to put a price on the damage that’s done,” Brooker said. “In addition to the monetary cost, there is the impact that it has on the rest of us. (Vandals) don’t have the respect for public property, but their not the ones having to clean the bathrooms when someone defacates on the walls or having to fix the torn fencing and doors. The few affect the many – they’re not doing it to one person, they’re doing it to a lot of people,” he said.

In addition to the everyday residents who enjoy the parks and the facilities offered, the vandalism affects the very image of the city itself.

“We have visitors who come through and see this in disrepair and what does that say for our city,” Brooker said.

Pettus echoed that sentiment in his letter.

“These damages cost the tax payers thousands of dollars in repairs and leave the facilities in disrepair until time and money allow for those repairs,” he said. “The Parks and Recreation Department takes great pride in the city of Demopolis and especially its parks. We would like to think that our citizens take pride and ownership as well.”

Brooker noted that inaction makes a person just as responsible as those who commit the crime.

“We all have to share the responsibility,” he said. “Someone has to have heard or seen something, if that person or those people would just let us or the police know we would appreciate it.”

Brooker said the information could be anonymous, such as with a police hotline.

“The important thing is that we find out who is doing this and put a stop to it,’ he said.

Anyone who has information or sees someone abusing the facilities is asked to call the Demopolis Parks and Recreation Department at 289-2891, City Hall at 289-0577,

or the Demopolis Police Department at 289-3073.