Because of continuing acts of vandalism, the the City of Hillsboro Parks Committee is seeking volunteers to participate in a community watch.
“We’re hoping the presence of other people will deter the bad behavior,” said Patrick Shanahan, a member of the parks committee. “The idea is we’re going to ask people to commit to one time slot per week and ask them to do what they normally do at the parks, but while they’re there kind of glance around at the trouble spots — maybe stick their head in the bathroom or check on the veterans memorial, where there’s been a litter problem.”
Shanahan said the committee has lots of ideas for improvements and new features at Liberty Park, but the vandalism has been a constant obstacle.
“We’re hesitant to do so because of past incidents of vandalism,” he said. “One of the more egregious examples occurred at Railroad Park (the city park on Railroad Street). City employees renovated the park bathrooms with brand new toilets and plumbing. Within two weeks, someone had ripped the doors off the hinges, damaged the toilets, and cut out all the copper pipes.”
He said other incidents have involved trash cans being set on fire and park benches being tossed into Harmony Lake at Liberty Park. He said city employees are hesitant to fix damaged property because they‘re worried the cycle will just repeat itself.
A couple of the ideas for improvements at Liberty Park, Shanahan said, include new playground equipment and a community garden.
“It’s tough on us on the parks committee because we have all these ideas and things we want to do, but then we have the issue of vandalism,” Shanahan said. “We feel like we’re stuck in a Catch-22. Increasing the number of visitors in the parks would probably help discourage a lot of vandalism. But to attract more visitors we need to add new features that will probably be vandalized.”
The primary goal of the community watch is to create a steady stream of visitors throughout the day, he said.
For anyone interested in volunteering, there will be an informational meeting at the old firehouse at the corner of North High Street and Governor Trimble Place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 4.
“Our hope is that this will help deter some acts of vandalism. It is not a perfect solution, but we hope that it will help put a dent in the problem,” Shanahan said. “We are not asking people to take on an enormous commitment. It’s very volunteer. We’re just looking for people to look around and keep an eye on things.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.