COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department is reporting an “uptick” in vandalism cases.
Over the weekend, a bench, concrete floor, water fountain, and light were damaged at John Venezia Park off of Briargate Parkway. Only a few days later, more damage was reported. All total, a city official says John Venezia Park alone has sustained approximately $20,000 worth of damage.
This is not the first case of vandalism reported at a Colorado Springs park. The city’s park department has reported swings being cut off their sets, basketball nets being ripped off their hoops, and several cases of graffiti.
Additionally, back in August, two monuments were vandalized with spray paint in Memorial Park. At last report, police are still searching for the person/people responsible.
The uptick comes at a time when Colorado Springs Park Department is already struggling to meet its goals with its current funding. Tack on an additional $20,000 worth of repairs and the department’s goals continue being pushed back.
It’s an issue the department says should be alarming to the community as parks are funded through taxpayers’ money. Meaning, rather than spending $20,000 on new playground equipment or sprinklers, funds are being used to remove vandals’ work.
Yet, the department is not giving up without a fight. Personnel are re-evaluating camera placement within the parks as well as involving local law enforcement.
FOX21 reached out to the Colorado Springs Police Department about the situation. The department explained it had not seen any rise in vandalism compared to previous years, but is in communication with the Parks Department.
Although CSPD has not implemented any increased patrol at Colorado Springs parks, its Community Resource Officers, as well as the city’s neighborhood services, partner together to document and repair damage. Once a suspect is identified, their crimes can be linked to them, and charges can be filed.
Fines can range anywhere from a few dollars to thousands depending on the type of crime and damage that is committed.
Parks are not the only areas in Colorado Springs targeted by vandals. Over the weekend, during the same time period that John Venezia Park was damaged, several downtown Colorado Springs buildings were vandalized.
During the early morning hours on Sept. 12, the El Paso County Courthouse and McDivitt Law Firm’s front windows were smashed. Just a few streets away, the Atomic Cowboy restaurant and Pikes Peak Brewing Company Lager House were also targeted.
Law enforcement told FOX21 the courthouse’s damage alone cost more than $10,000.
Although no suspects have been announced regarding the recent park vandalism, Colorado Springs Parks encourage residents with any information to contact the CSPD’s Public Information Officer at (719) 444-7000.