by Mike Knaak
A recent run of vandalism at two city parks has cost the city of St. Joseph thousands of dollars for repairs and has led to a cutback in services.
Fixing damage to the restrooms at the Wobegon trailhead cost about $8,000 to repair. Vandals damaged the fixtures, electric heater, a hand dryer and power outlets. The vandals struck before the building was locked for the night.
Public Works Director Terry Thene suspects the damage was done with some type of metal bar.
At nearby Centennial Park, vandals kicked in the doors, dumped sand in the toilets and urinals and spread feces around the room. Sand in fixtures damages the plumbing. The soffit on the outside was also damaged.
Thene said deadbolt locks were installed at Centennial, 205 Birch St. W., to prevent further damage but vandals still damaged the locked doors.
Now the restrooms are locked except when the shelter is reserved.
“Parents go out there with kids,” Thene said. “They have to use the restroom. It was an amenity that was put there for the public.”
Thene estimated it cost about $3,000 to clean up Centennial.
Thene is asking for the public’s help to protect the facilities.
“I would like people to have their eyes open in the park,” he said. “If they see something suspicious call police. Parents need to talk to kids so they understand this is not a harmless act. It costs money and you have to shut down amenities provided to the public. My goal is to open everything up to the public.”