Vandalism closes Park Discovery; public volunteer cleanup day scheduled

Vandalism at Park Discovery, Cedar City, Utah, April 16, 2016 | Photo by Liz Okeson with Cedar City Leisure Services, Cedar City News

UPDATE: At approximately 12:30 p.m. Monday, the Cedar City Police Department issued a press release stating that two of the three suspects in the Park Discovery vandalism case had been arrested. The press release stated:

The notice of the park closure was posted on the Cedar City Leisure Services Facebook page. The notice was seen by an employee of Wal-Mart who recalled selling paint to three juveniles on Friday. This employee provided the information to park officials who in turn provided the information to police. Officers were able to take the information given and work with Wal-Mart personnel to obtain video and photos of the paint purchase. Believing the suspects were juveniles, Officers were able to identify two of the suspects through school employees.

Officers interviewed the two juveniles and obtained statements and recovered evidence that lead to their arrest. The two juveniles were booked into Youth Corrections on the charge of Criminal Mischief, a third degree felony. The third suspect has been identified but not located.

CEDAR CITY — Multiple acts of vandalism at the community-created Park Discovery in Cedar City have temporarily shut down the park. While the vandalism has angered many residents, Austin Bingham, head of the Cedar City Leisure Services Parks and Outdoor Facilities, said the show of support from both residents and businesses has been remarkable, and a public volunteer cleanup day has been scheduled for Tuesday.

Vandalism at Park Discovery, Cedar City, Utah, April 16, 2016 | Photo by Liz Okeson with Cedar City Leisure Services, Cedar City News
Vandalism at Park Discovery, Cedar City, Utah, April 16, 2016 | Photo by Liz Okeson with Cedar City Leisure Services, Cedar City News

The Cedar City Parks crew discovered the vandalism Saturday, according to the Cedar City Leisure Services Facebook page. At that point, they immediately closed the park and began the cleanup.

The majority of the damage was spray paint “tagging,” but there was also some damage to the wood pieces, which Bingham said was probably a result of someone kicking the pieces.

“Those were fixed right away,” he said.

Numerous vulgar comments were spray painted on the playground structures. Bingham said those were the first things they cleaned up.

“A lot of people were coming by to check out the damage,” he said. “Obviously we didn’t want those on there, so we cleaned all of that up first.”

Four or five parks employees had been working on the repairs since Saturday, Bingham said, but following the Facebook posting, some volunteers showed up Sunday to help with the project.

The Facebook post also generated considerable response from other community members wondering how they could help.

“There was a huge response from the public,” Bingham said.

In addition to the public response, businesses have stepped up as well. Bingham said:

Home Depot donated a few supplies to help us out …. I even had an email from somebody out of Salt Lake that runs a graffiti removal business that was willing to send a truck down today if we needed. It’s been quite remarkable.

Vandalism at Park Discovery, Cedar City, Utah, April 16, 2016 | Photo by Liz Okeson with Cedar City Leisure Services, Cedar City News
Vandalism at Park Discovery, Cedar City, Utah, April 16, 2016 | Photo by Liz Okeson with Cedar City Leisure Services, Cedar City News

Park Discovery is a local favorite among parents and children. The park is unique in that it was designed by children and built with the support of community members.

Cedar City Councilman Paul Cozzens is one of these community members. On the Cedar City Leisure Services Facebook post, he called the act of vandalism “disgusting.”

“My boys and I worked many hours on this park,” Cozzens commented.

Many other residents also chimed in, expressing frustration that this should happen to a park which is so highly valued by local families. Besides the community input aspect, many people like the park simply because of its parent-friendly layout. With a wood fence surrounding the majority of the play structures, parents are able to easily keep an eye on their children without concern that they will run into the street.

However, with Park Discovery being located a good distance away from W. Royal Hunte Drive and surrounded by businesses on one side and Cedar Middle School on the other, that means no one is keeping an eye on the park.

Since vehicles can’t pull up immediately to the perimeter, Bingham said, law enforcement patrol has been difficult. However, he said, the Cedar City Police Department has offered up extra bike patrols.

The police have been really great on extra patrols. They’ve already talked about their bike patrols … they’re going to start doing more patrols back in there.”

Otherwise, Cedar City is looking at all options to prevent this from happening again, Bingham said, and he hopes they don’t have to resort to cameras.

“We hate to just put cameras everywhere,” he said. “It’s nice to know you can go to a place and just enjoy it and not feel like you have to be watched all the time. But we’re just looking at some different options going forward.”

The city hopes to have Park Discovery reopened as soon as possible.

We’re going to have it open sooner than later with the response we’ve had,” Bingham said, “and the cleanup already.”

A public volunteer day has been scheduled for Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for anybody that wants to come help. Interested volunteers should bring a good pair of work clothes and some gloves as the majority of the work will be painting and applying sealer. Volunteers don’t need to sign up; they just need to show up at the park between those hours.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • RealMcCoy April 18, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    When will they make areas like this into ‘Graffiti Free’ zones?
    Everyone knows putting up those little signs (gun free, drug free, etc…) prevents criminals from doing the things that are banned, unless of course YOU’RE dotboy, who flaunts the laws and commits felonies anyways.
    I’m sure he’s the only criminal that disregards the laws though.

  • .... April 18, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Awwww you poor little thing YORE still upset about the word HAVE. so like the keyboard warrior you are you went out and committed another one of YOU’RE atrocities so you could express YOU’RE feelings. ..HAVE a nice day keyboard tough guy

    • RealMcCoy April 19, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      You sound mad. I didn’t mean to hurt YOUR feelings, but I didn’t know you had any.

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