Park asks for help against van­dals

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Con­rad Swan­son

Be­fore the gates even opened July 8 at John Venezia Com­mu­nity Park in north Colorado Springs, the city’s first new park in 12 years, yel­low ham­merand-sickle and red an­ar­chy signs had been smeared across the park’s build­ings.

Con­struc­tion work­ers ar­rived some morn­ings to find their equip­ment van­dal­ized or stolen, lights stripped of their cop­per and mer­ci­less spray-paint­ing across many of the park’s yet-to-be-used ameni­ties, said Kurt Schroeder, park main­te­nance and op­er­a­tions man­ager.

The ranch-theme park near Bri­ar­gate Park­way and North Union Boule­vard has hardly been open a month, and the van­dals have yet to let up, Schroeder said. They’ve hit the park “sig­nif­i­cantly” about six times. So Parks, Recre­ation and Cul­tural Ser­vices is ask­ing the City Coun­cil to fast-track a $450,000 ap­pro­pri­a­tion for se­cu­rity cam­eras to cur­tail the prob­lem.

“When you’ve got some­thing brand new like this and be­fore it’s even open peo­ple are hit­ting it, it’s re­ally dis­ap­point­ing,” Schroeder said. “If you’ve been up there, it’s a fan­tas­tic fa­cil­ity. And if this has started al­ready, it usu­ally won’t stop.”

The park was even hit the night be­fore its July 8 de­but, Schroeder said. The next morn­ing, Parks em­ploy­ees scram­bled to cover the dam­age be­fore the pub­lic ar­rived to scope out the city’s $13 mil­lion in­vest­ment.

The park has sus­tained about $80,000 in dam­age to date, said parks di­rec­tor Karen Palus.

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