EDITORIAL: Help prevent park vandalism

Vandals have trashed the city of Oak Harbor’s treasures — its waterfront parks — and this must be stopped before the parks are ruined for everyone.

An estimated $3,000 in damage has been done to date in several vandalism incidents this month. The public is already paying monetarily and through inconvenience -- restrooms once open all night for the convenience of campers have been closed to prevent further damage.

Police have increased patrols, but with limited resources and lots of violent crime to worry about, this is not a permanent solution. It would be nice to capture these particular vandals, but more will surely follow.

The city’s park board should give some serious thought to long-term ways to prevent vandalism. Sturdier park fixtures is one answer. Ceramic toilet bowls have been shattered, but indestructible stainless steel bowls are expensive. Perhaps technology can help. Every mom and pop grocery store has video cameras, so why can’t cameras keep an eye on the parks at night? Civil liberties shouldn’t be a big concern between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Volunteers could also be part of the solution. Oak Harbor already has volunteers who patrol in cars for the police, perhaps they could make walks through the parks part of their regular routine. Even daytime patrols in the summer would be welcome. There are plenty of incidents of misbehavior including both humans and canines that could be eliminated with the presence of a few friendly authority figures.

Ultimately, providing safe, pleasant and vandal-free parks is the responsibility of every resident of Oak Harbor. If you live around the parks or are just driving by keep an eye on things and call 911 if you see anything suspicious. City Beach Park and Flintsone Park are indeed treasures — ones we must protect from the vandals.

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