Rome laments uptick in vandalism at playgrounds, parks
ROME — Public parks in the City of Rome have seen more than $10,000 worth of vandalism since they opened a week and a half ago, with new damage on an almost nightly basis, according to the city Parks and Recreation Department.
No arrests have been made so far, and park officials said they have asked for an increased police presence. “We’ve certainly had graffiti, but not to this extent,” said Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Ryan Hickey. “It’s just a lot more pronounced.”
According to city officials, the vandalism has been widespread across multiple parks, with different types of damage. The slide at Triangle Park on East Garden Street was destroyed, causing $7,000 worth of damage. Officials said the slide was so old that replacement parts are discontinued, so the slide will not be replaced this year.
The arms of a swing at Bellamy Harbor Park were damaged so much that they needed to be rebuilt and reinforced, officials said. The clubhouse at Pinti Field on Sixth Street was ransacked, with vandals causing $2,000 in damages. The clubhouse will be closed until repairs are completed.
Hickey said the clubhouse is normally locked, but there has been some trouble completely securing the old door, and that’s how they believe the vandals got inside.
Graffiti has been an almost daily issue, requiring Parks employees to spend hours cleaning it off and restoring the buildings. “I wish we could put a finger on it,” Hickey stated.
The vandalism is mostly occurring overnight, with Parks employees discovering the damage in the morning. He said it is believed to be a combination of both children and adults.
Hickey said they do not have a specific cause of this year’s increase in vandalism, but he did note that Rome has seen a dramatic loss of youth activities, usually due to out of control parents. Both the youth basketball program and Pop Warner Football were cancelled in Rome within the past year due to violent behavior from parents. “I think we’ve got to remember that we’re all in this together,” Hickey stated.
“This is our community. We should be looking out for each other.” Anyone who witnesses vandalism at a park or who has information about the vandalism is asked to call Rome Police at 315-339-7780 or the tip line at 315-339-7744.
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