Vandals have again marred Tivoli’s Memorial Park, adding to a string of 10 incidents that have occurred over the last three months, according to Mayor Bryan Cranna.
In the latest incident, which took place on Aug. 13 sometime between 1:30 and 3:30pm, vandals destroyed the welcome sign to the park and damaged the automated locks to the bathrooms, according to the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office.
The items are damaged beyond repair and will need to be completely replaced to the tune of $200 for the sign and $500 for the two locks, according to Cranna.
“It angers me, as the mayor and as a father of two young kids that play in that park quite often. It’s not fair to the village residents; this is now a cost that residents will have to incur,” he added.
The mayor said the incident is particularly disappointing because the village has almost completed a $100,000 renovation of the park, funded by a Community Development Block Grant.
“We’ve put so much time, energy, and resources into revitalizing that park. We’re getting ready right now to do a grand re-opening and to have to backtrack now and go back and fix some of these things is a disappointment,” the mayor said.
“At first we thought they were isolated incidents…In any community, unfortunately, you see these things pop up here or there where they’re isolated incidents. Right now, it seems like we’ve had this rush, unfortunately,” Cranna said.
In earlier incidents this summer, Dutchess County Sheriff’s deputies apprehended four minors who were trespassing in the park on July 19. Two girls were found to be trespassing but not causing mischief, and were returned to their families. But later in the day, two youths, ages 15 and 17, were caught damaging an out-building, possibly the bathrooms, according to Captain John Watterson. The 17 year old was charged with criminal mischief and will appear in court and the 15 year old was charged in Family Court with juvenile delinquency.
Other incidents in the last three months involved spray paint on the pavilion, damaged street signs, and damage to picnic tables. All are still being investigated by the sheriff’s office.
Before the park renovations began, there were at least two acts of vandalism last summer. In June 2012, a youth was charged with arson after a fire was set under the park pavilion and on a piece of equipment. The youth was sentenced to community service in the village.
In an apparently separate incident the same month, the Porta Johns in the park were tipped over and garbage was spilled under the pavilion. In addition, the Village Directory near Village Hall was torn down, and several door knobs were removed within the building. At that time, Sheriff’s patrols were increased.
Cranna said the village will once again be adding another patrol by sheriff’s deputies in order to help stop the current spate of vandalism. Watterson confirmed that patrols occur at least three times a week.
That increase, coupled with the repairs and replacements, will cost taxpayers about $3,000, Cranna added. The current cost for sheriff patrols is close to $3,000 per month.
Another idea being investigated is a neighborhood watch group to patrol the area, the mayor said.
“By having village residents volunteering in the park, which we’ve had lately, more residents are taking pride in their park lately and they’re going to be more on the alert…and hopefully identifying something that …looks suspicious,” he said.
He added that the village will be coordinating with the sheriff’s office to iron out details on how a formal neighborhood watch might work. “We want to make sure if we do this, we do it correctly and that we see results”, he said.
Cranna noted, “My hope is that by bringing attention to this and not hiding behind this issue, hopefully, people will be…the eyes and ears of the village and if they see something, they’ll call the village office or the sheriff’s office.”
The park renovation project includes a complete overhaul of the bathrooms to make them handicapped accessible; a renovation of the pavilion in which the only piece not replaced was the roof; resurfacing of the basketball court and a new handicapped accessible path to the court and the pavilion; a new wheelchair accessible swing; and a new drainage plan to mitigate the excess water issues in the park, including the softball field.
According to Village Trustee Robin Bruno, the $100,000 in grant money was spent on these improvements, but the renovation of the park will be “a continuous project.”