Damaged Picnic Table

Picnic table in lower shelter at shows signs of vandalism. Photo by Stan Schwartz

BOWLING GREEN—Recently on the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department Facebook page a notice was posted asking people not to vandalize city property.

It also asked that anyone who observes people defacing or destroying property should report the incident to the Bowling Green Police Department.

Deana Conners, parks event coordinator, said vandalism is an ongoing problem for her department.  She noted that there is a continuing problems with children damaging the picnic tables and trying to move the security cameras in the shelters.

“They peel off the paint from the picnic tables and draw pictures all over the shelter house,” she said during a phone interview on Friday. A new Bowling Green School Bobcat flag the Parks Department recently installed went missing, as well, she added. “We usually leave it hanging all year round,” she said.

City Administrator Linda Luebrecht said vandalism of city parks has always been a problem. “I don’t know if we’ve had more vandalism this year, but it seems as though we’ve had more of an issue with kids messing with the (security) cameras,” she said. The cameras were installed so that the city could keep an eye on the parks without having to constantly patrol them. But, she added, people are trying to turn the cameras so that they can’t be seen damaging the structures.

“We do have cameras out there, and they have learned how to climb up and rotate them,” she said.

Bowling Green Police Chief Don Nacke said his department has a photo of the juvenile who did the most recent damage, and he is just waiting on identification.

“We don’t know who he is yet,” he said, and because the person is a juvenile, he can’t post the photo on social media for help in identification.

“We know he’s done some of it (the vandalism),” Nacke said. “But there have been a lot of others, too.”

Luebrecht also noted the damage done to the picnic tables and the large amount of graffiti being done inside the shelters.

“It’s really annoying,” she added. There’s a certain cost to fixing the shelters and picnic tables that could be used elsewhere for everyone’s enjoyment of the parks the city provides to its residents.

“Some of these kids have been in trouble in the past for the same thing,” she said. A few of them had recently been run off by members of the police department for climbing in the rafters. “They were repeat offenders,” she said, but had not been doing anything illegal at that time. “They’ve had to do community service,” she said, for the damage they caused. “They should know better.”

And it’s not only kids, she said. “You don’t know for sure sometimes who is doing it.”

Luebrecht also noted the vandalism that had taken place at the city lake earlier this year. Most of that graffiti and damage has been cleaned up.

“I just wish everybody would learn to appreciate and take into consideration the property of others,” she said. “A lot of this starts at home. Teach your kids, teach your young adults” to respect the property of others.

“It’s just frustrating,” she added. “I don’t understand the mindset of why people do this type of vandalism.”

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