Vandals prompt curfew proposal

A rash of vandalism has prompted public works to ask the city to impose a new curfew on Oak Harbor parks.

“It’s expensive and labor intensive to make repairs,” said Parks Manager Hank Nydam.

Last week a wave of vandalism left Windjammer Park with a dozen broken sprinkler heads. Before that, vandals unsuccessfully attempted to break into the pop machine.

Windjammer isn’t the only targeted area. At Flintstone Park, someone smashed a porcelain toilet to pieces.

“It just creates more work,” Nydam said. “If it’s reported it becomes a priority.”

Nydam estimates that the cost of replacing the sprinklers was $600 to $800. Replacing the porcelain toilet with a steel one cost more than $2,000. Steel is more expensive, but it can’t be smashed, he said.

The frequency and amount of vandalism parks receive at any given time ebbs and flows, said Nydam.

“Every year is different, so it’s hard to estimate the percentage of our budget that the repairs take up,” he said.

But Nydam said that on average, public works may spend up to $10,000 a year in unnecessary repairs.

“It’s a crazy thing to track,” he said. “It goes in sprees.”

While a curfew will not solve all vandalism problems, it may discourage mischief after hours, he said.

Only Windjammer, Fort Nugent and Volunteer/Skate Parks currently have posted hours.

Public works hopes that the curfew, proposed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., will also discourage transients from sleeping in the parks.

“The curfew will give the police department a tool to make people leave,” Nydam said of homeless people staying overnight in the parks.

“There’s been an increase in people that are just sleeping wherever, or in their vehicles,” he said.

Although these people don’t normally cause trouble, some of them do not clean up after themselves, said Public Works Director Cathy Rosen.

Without posted hours, the police have no authority to remove these people.

The curfew “just makes the situation a little easier to control,” she said.

The issue was brought to the attention of the city during last Thursday’s City Council meeting and is expected to be discussed and perhaps adopted at the next council meeting on Sept. 16.

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