MOUNT VERNON — Foundation Park Conservancy is asking for the public’s help in cutting down on vandalism at Ariel-Foundation Park. Park officials are issuing the same advice the police give to people watching for criminal activity in their neighborhoods: If you see or hear something happening, tell a park official or call the police.
Park Operations Director Mark Fritz said there has not been an increase in vandalism, but incidents that do occur are annoying and cost money to repair or clean up. The latest incident occurred a little over a week ago, when a portable restroom near the West Lake was tipped over.
“That created a real mess, but we cleaned it up and set it back in place,” Fritz said. Then, a couple days later, someone came back, knocked it over again and ran over it with a truck.
Other incidents have occurred in the past. Last year for example, before the Conservancy took over the responsibility for park maintenance, several concrete park benches were overturned. They were not damaged, but were a pain to get set back up.
In another incident, windows were broken at the Woodworking Shop and restrooms vandalized.
City Parks Superintendent Dave Carpenter arranged for the installation of security cameras, which got shots of what appeared to be teen-agers breaking the windows, but the pictures weren’t good enough to identify the suspects.
Fritz said they are looking into ways to improve the system (such as better cameras and some new lights), and at a seminar on dealing with park vandalism, he made friends with an official from Central Park in New York City and has been “picking his brain” for ideas.
“I think most people want to have nice parks. Most of the vandalism usually is done by teen-agers and they like to brag or even post pictures on line,” Fritz said.
If you see vandalism taking place, call the Mount Vernon Police, or you can report it to the park office at 10 Pittsburgh Ave.
“We want to partner with the community,” said park Marketing Director Carrie Haver. “The community enjoys being at the park and supporting it — we need their partnership to be eyes and ears at the park and when they know of something happening or see something, we need their support and partnership to communicate that with us.”