Opening of newly constructed park delayed after vandalism
By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector
Friday, November 30, 2018
The newly constructed Westpointe Park located off of Stantonsburg Road will not open until sometime in December after vandals destroyed thousands of dollars worth of plumbing fixtures in the park’s restroom buildings.
The vandalism occurred on two separate occasions since Oct. 24, according to a recent memo released by Gary Fenton, Greenville’s director of Parks and Recreation. The first incident happened on Oct. 22 and the second took place on Nov. 4.
In the first incident, sinks, mirrors, two air vents, three door lock sets and latches and walls with plumbing fixtures inside were damaged. In the second incident, two juveniles spray painted park signs, the facade of the restroom building and a sink in the women’s restroom.
The estimated repair costs are estimated to exceed $5,000 according to city officials.
“Vandalism is a total waste of resources and is usually the work of some unthinking, misguided person or group of people who don’t recognize that defacing public facilities is a cost to them, as well as to others,” Fenton said. “It is a horrendous frustration that makes it more difficult or impossible to address other important needs. Yet it is only a small number of people who cause a problem that impacts so many.”
Following the incidents Recreation and Parks facilitated a meeting with the Westpointe Community representatives at the Vidant Wellness Center on Nov. 16 to provide an update on park construction, and to discuss ways future vandalism might be mitigated.
“Staff from the Greenville Police Department and Code Enforcement attended, and gave valuable input on security and crime prevention,” Fenton said. “Also attending were Parks Planner Lamarco Morrison and myself.”
According to memo distributed by city officials, the following security enhancements are being made:
■ A security camera has been installed on an existing light pole with a view of the playground area and restroom building. GRPD is working closely with the IT and GPD to install an additional camera for better surveillance coverage.
■ “Under Surveillance” signage is being installed by the Parks Division.
■ A swinging arm gate and two bollards will be installed at the Gretna Drive park entrance to prevent vehicles from entering the park. The gate will be locked, and can only be accessed by Parks Maintenance staff, Fire/Rescue and GPD.
■ Greenville Police has increased patrols in the park area and will continue its presence in the neighborhood.
■ Greenville Recreation and Parks is working with GUC to install additional light fixtures at the park for better visibility at night.
■ Neighbors in the Westpointe community will work to have an ongoing presence in the park by forming walking groups, holding community events to discuss crime prevention, and working closely with the Greenville Police Department and Code Enforcement.
Fenton said that he anticipates all the repairs being completed and security equipment being installed by early December.
Asked if safety is a concern following the vandalism incidents, Fenton said there have been no incidents that would suggest citizens should not to feel safe using their park.
“Park vandalism and personal safety don’t necessarily relate to one another,” he said. “The least-visited park can be most likely to be vandalized, because the criminals can do their damage without being seen.
“Few communities are immune from it, though it is more common in some communities and some parks than it is in others,” Fenton said. “Though it is certainly not rampant in Greenville’s park system, every incident is frustrating, every case is a totally unnecessary waste of money and manpower.
An official opening date for the park has not yet been established, and Fenton said his staff will not set one until all repairs and other details have been addressed.
“We’re anticipating that will be sometime in mid-December,” Fenton said.