Vandal Strikes Woodland Park, Department Gets Proactive
Kalispell's Parks and Recreation Department starts cleaning up the work of what they think is just one vandal.
Thanks to some recent changes, though, the cost to remove this kind of graffiti has dropped off over the past few years.
They struck last week, all over the back side of the pool over in Woodland. They also hit up the bathroom stalls and some of the walls. Parks and Recreation director Chad Fincher sent in a number of photos to the police, but they haven't had any luck catching the culprit.
"It kind of ticks me off just because it makes things look bad," said Val Hemsley, the recreation programmer for the Department, "It's blatant disregard for property."
Just cleaning up the mess will take at least $500. Sometimes they can wait around and make it a service project for some of the kids over at the Center for Restorative Youth Justice, but this stuff can't wait. They've already started cleaning and painting over the pictures, hopefully knocking the wind out of the sails of the vandal and potential future graffiti artists.
"Typically in the spring we get hit real hard," explained Fincher, "There's a lot of tagging around the skate park. It seems the pool gets tagged on the back side of the building just because it's not seen by a whole lot of people."
The Department is really getting out ahead of stuff like this. Now they have a camera set up near the pool, and they've even set up the sprinklers to go off around 2:00 a.m., after the bars let out and the chances of getting spray painted are highest.
According to the Department's annual report, the cost of fixing vandalism has been going down since 2011. Last year, damage totaled $2,641, almost halving the year before.
"It really depends. I mean if we have an individual go in and set fire to a facility, those costs go way up. Generally speaking, vandalism such as graffiti isn't really costly, unless it's like what happened recently where there's a lot of it," said Fincher.
For this latest strike, Fincher says they'll have to wait for better weather to remove the rest of it.
Since 2000, the worst year for park vandalism cost the Department more than $5,700. That was between 2002 and 2003.