Public park facilities in Statesville, N.C., have recently come under scrutiny after concerned citizen Nande Kristi noticed children drinking from a ground spigot while playing at her neighborhood park.
Kristi contacted city officials about the lack of a proper water fountain and to enquire about the bathroom facilities, which are routinely kept locked. “Children relieving themselves behind a tree, that is very upsetting to me,” Kristi told Eyewitness News.
Eyewitness News spoke with Statesville Parks and Recreation director Brent Cornelison, who said that the facilities are often closed due to vandalism. “Unfortunately, the restrooms have had a history of if we leave them open they get torn up,” he said.
The water fountain, too, has become a casualty of the city’s vandalism problem, and has been repeatedly ripped off the wall. City leaders valued the original installation at $1,700, and said it has been replaced on several occasions.
Most recently, the city attempted to replace the fountain with a salvaged fixture from another facility.
While Kristi and other parents in the neighborhood have “gotten disgusted” about the treatment of the local parks, Cornelison pointed out that it is not realistic for all of the city parks to be treated equally.
The larger regional parks are more often filled with visitors and staff, so there is less opportunity for vandalism and less damage.
According to Cornelison, the bathroom facilities at the smaller neighborhood parks were never intended to be open every day and are available upon request when park shelters are reserved for group events.
City officials told Eyewitness News that of the more than 210 parks in Mecklenburg County, all but four have restrooms that are consistently open for public use.