Vandals struck the Northside Community Center early Tuesday morning and destroyed many items housed there, and have damaged several other city venues recently.
Recreation Supervisor Jonathan Cleghorn got to the facility at approximately 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and discovered that the facility had been broken into and a water fountain had been ripped off the wall.
“There was water going everywhere,” Cleghorn said. “This is some place for the kids to come and enjoy themselves and learn too. It's sad that something like this could happen. This is the third time this has happened in two years. This is the worst damage that the center has suffered, though.”
Vandalism is alive and well in Hope, according to Hope Parks and Recreation Department Maintenance Supervisor Ronald “Runt” Kidd.
“Acts of vandalism are happening weekly, both at Hope Fair Park and at the Soccer Field Complex,” Kidd said. “The broken doors in the bathrooms have to be replaced and they are very expensive,” he said. “We've also had to paint over graffiti at the skate park and people use spray paint on the concrete. That can't be just scrubbed up, it has to be sandblasted off.
“People are taking the toilet paper and hand towels, but they aren't just doing that,” he said. “They are also taking the dispensers. Vandals have also taken mirrors off the walls, chiseled into concrete in the stalls of the bathrooms, and knocked sinks off the walls. They have also tried to pry heater vents open to get into the ceiling and have torn doors off stalls. It's getting expensive to replace the paper products, the soap, and the fixtures.”
“We're in the process of replacing the door at Northside right now,” Paul Henley, director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Hope, said Tuesday. “We have an inventory of what was damaged and missing now and the Hope Police Department is continuing its investigation.”
Items missing include an Xbox 360 with controllers and a Nintendo Wii and two wheel controllers. Items damaged include a water fountain that was ripped off the wall; a kitchen door damaged; a closet door damaged; office double doors damaged; the back door glass broken; a pool table overturned and damaged and not working; a Neo Geo wall game damaged and not working; six broken pool sticks; the Northside Park banner damaged and cut up, and the Track and Field wall game damaged and not working.
“The Hope Police Department is seeking public assistance in the identification and apprehension of these persons,” J. R. Wilson, Hope Police Department chief, said. Anyone with information regarding this crime should call the Hope Police Department Criminal Investigation Division at 722-2560.
“The Northside Park Recreation Center represents the hard work and dedication of all of our citizens to the youth of our community,” Wilson continued. “Notwithstanding the tax dollars that support this facility, dedicated volunteers staff the outreach and after-school programs.
Page 2 of 2 - “The youth who attend these programs are working hard to better their lives and create a better future,” he said. “It is very disheartening to see someone intentionally victimize our youth and these wonderful programs and disrupt the opportunities these programs provide. I highly anticipate juvenile involvement in this crime simply from the nature of the crime scene. I certainly hope that anyone with information regarding this crime will support our efforts to intervene in this public matter.”