URBANA — Vandals have caused more than $1,500 in damage at two Urbana parks this spring, and the park district is appealing to those using the parks to report suspicious activity.
"Every spring, we get a spate of vandalism," park district spokeswoman Dana Mancuso said. But with an unseasonably warm spring, vandals have hit the parks earlier and, at a couple of parks, "it's been definitely more than we expected," she said.
At King Park, vandals have spray-painted the shelters, stuffed clothing into toilets to make them overflow, ignited used toilet paper and started small fires inside restrooms and written "extensive" graffiti on playground equipment and picnic tables.
At Prairie Park, copper grounding wire from light poles has been stolen, at a replacement cost of $300, with pending expenses expected to double that figure.
The cost isn't the only problem.
"When we have to take time to repair damage and clean up, we are not able to stay on schedule with regular cleaning and maintenance throughout the park district," said Tim Bartlett, park district superintendent of planning and operations, in a press release.
"The community can make an immediate impact" toward preventing vandalism, Mancuso said, by calling district officials or police. You can call police by dialing 911, or the park district at 344-9583.
"The longer we let this go on without report," Bartlett said in the release, "the more money it costs to take care of — more of your money. Do not assume that someone else will call about what you see going on. Take action right away."