More patrols, security cameras considered after vandalism at Pickerington's Victory Park

Nate Ellis
ThisWeek group
Some time between April 24 and 25, the restrooms at Victory Park were vandalized. This photo, posted to the city of Pickerington's Facebook page, shows damage to the men's room.

Pickerington officials frustrated by recent destruction at Victory Park plan to keep a closer eye on things.

Between April 20 and 25, the restrooms at Victory Park were vandalized three times, Pickerington police Chief Tod Cheney said.

The worst came between the 24th and 25th, when damage to the men's restroom included a sink and urinal partition being ripped from the wall, a door being torn off a stall and a diaper-changing station being broken.

"We've had small issues of trash scattered, but this was the first time we've had damage to the restrooms since they've been new," Cheney said. "It really doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

"These restroom facilities were put in for people who use the park. It's frustrating and really uncalled for."

City Manager Greg Butcher said repair costs will "likely be in the thousands."

Police don't have suspects in any of last month's incidents, but they and city officials are asking anyone with information to call the police department at 614-575-6911.

There also will be increased patrols of the park and "zero tolerance" for anyone in the park after dark, Cheney said.   

On April 23, a post on the city's Facebook page asked parents whose children frequent Victory Park to "have discussions with them and ask them to report anyone they see damaging the park."

The city posted a message April 28 that showed photos of the vandalism and announced the restrooms had been closed.

"We've seen excessive amounts of litter and even graffiti," the post stated. "Pickerington police will be stepping up patrols and we're adding more surveillance cameras to the parks, but we could use your help, too."

The city has maintained security cameras in Victory and Sycamore Creek parks, as well as the Pickerington Community Pool, for about eight years. Generally, Cheney and Butcher said, they provide surveillance footage for police to review if an incident occurs at any of the sites.

There are no cameras inside restroom facilities, and that won't change with the addition of cameras.

In the wake of the incidents, Butcher said the city is "reviewing enhanced security features, which has been a focus of our previous budgets." 

The city has $5,000 in its 2021 budget for additional cameras, according to Chris Schornack, Pickerington’s city's finance director.

In addition to new cameras, Cheney said police dispatchers soon will be able to help watch over parks from police headquarters at 1311 Refugee Road.

"We're working on the ability to monitor our parks 24/7 by our dispatch center," Cheney said. "Our dispatchers … will have the ability to look at video of the parks live."

The restrooms that were built in 2019 for $71,349 remain closed, and Butcher wasn't sure when they might be reopened.

Portable restrooms have been installed at the park, but no other park features have been affected, he said.

"We are proud of our several parks and have invested significantly in them," Butcher said. "Vandalism to our facilities impacts the many users.

"If anyone sees park facilities being vandalized or damages, please contact Pickerington PD."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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