Continuing Vandalism to Parks Costing City Money, Employee Time

Tabatha Wethal Headshot
Newark Del

Damage to parks in Newark, Del., and the associated cost of repairs have increased recently, parks department officials told the Newark Post.

The increase in vandalism is costing the city thousands of dollars and diverting park employees' time away from more routine maintenance.

“We're fortunate that our parks are liked by our residents and they appreciate everything that's there, and I think there's a sense of disappointment when they walk out in the morning with their kids to enjoy the park and they see graffiti with foul language or one of the play features is broke,” Joe Spadafino, director of the parks department, said. “It's disappointing for them, and it's disappointing for us when we hear about it.”

The incidents have increased in the past six months, Spadafino told the newspaper. Much of the damage has been at Newark's newest park, Hillside Park. Vandals destroyed three light posts, sprayed graffiti, ripped out plantings, removed tree stakes, damaged trashcans and even stole some of the letters that spell out Hillside Park on a decorative stone wall. The new sign for Kells Park was stolen just 48 hours after it was installed.

The trees are also sustaining damage: trees that line Main Street are another common target for vandals. Over the last two years, 12 trees have been damaged.

“As soon as they get some growth and get established is when we're seeing they get torn out,” Spadafino said. “I think somebody's trying to show off for their friend, or one incident was just a guy walking down the street by himself at 2 O'clock in the morning and he decided to take his anger out on a tree.”

Anyone who spots graffiti or other damage should report it to the Parks and Recreation Department at 302-366-7000 so it can be repaired as quickly as possible.

Spadafino is asking the vandals to stop. “My message would be to respect other people's property,” he said the Newark Post reported.. “It would be no different than if I was to walk into to their backyard and tear their tree down or walk into their house and spray graffiti on their walls. I don't think they'd like it too much.”

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