Vandalism to St. Francis parks getting too expensive

by Karin Craig
For the Union

Repairing damage from ongoing vandalism to St. Francis city parks is becoming expensive and the city council is struggling with whether it makes sense to keep throwing money at a problem that has no apparent end in sight.

In the last three weeks, the city has spent more than $4,000 on replacement parts and repairs to structures in the city’s parks, said City Administrator Matt Hylen. And that $4,000 only includes actual invoice amounts for materials; it does not include the staff time spent carrying out the repairs.

Hylen called the situation “frustrating,” because every survey says that having quality parks is very important to a community. He said staff is considering multiple options, including removing or relocating park equipment or even closing parks.

Mayor Jerry Tveit said many people have approached him with concerns about the city’s taxes being raised in this economy, although he said he recognizes the value of parks to a community.

“I have a hard time justifying putting thousands of dollars in a park,” said Tveit. “If our citizens don’t take care of these parks, I don’t want to throw good money after bad.”

The council is considering holding a neighborhood meeting to let people know that it is considering removing structures or closing parks in light of the continuing vandalism expense.