June 13, 2012 - Oxford Village's Department of Public Works (DPW) strives to keep the municipality's parks looking pristine for residents and visitors alike.
That's why it's so frustrating when vandals leave their destructive calling cards on public property inside Centennial and Scripter parks.
"It's very upsetting," said DPW Superintendent Don Brantley. "It's upsetting that people destroy taxpayer property and then it costs the taxpayers more (money) to fix it."
That's why Brantley is asking members of the public to be on the lookout for vandals and immediately report any destructive or suspicious activity to village police.
"I'm hoping we can get some extra eyes out there in the community and when people see these things happening, they'll speak up," he said. "I can't be there all the time."
Back in April and May, the DPW repainted the quaint gazebo in downtown's Centennial Park. Shortly after the project was finished, some vandals used markers to write on the railings and brick. They also stepped on the fresh paint in some areas.
Not only did DPW workers have to do some repainting, they also had to scrub the brick areas, which was difficult and time-consuming because "brick is very porous."
Between labor and materials, Brantley estimated it cost the village approximately $150 to clean up the vandals' mess.
Over in Scripter Park along S. Glaspie St., vandals have been using markers to write on restroom walls and picnic tables. They also carved words and images into the tables.
In both parks, the vandals are writing people's names and profane words along with drawing vulgar images.
But that's not all. The vandals have been climbing park trees, breaking off branches and leaving them on the ground for DPW workers to collect.
"We probably picked up a truckload's worth of brush," Brantley said.
Instances of park visitors drinking alcohol, which is an ordinance violation, and smoking marijuana have also been discovered at Scripter.
Brantley noted there are park employees keeping an eye on things between 12 noon and 8 p.m., however, "I think a lot of this stuff is happening after 8 p.m."
Brantley indicated he's talked to village Police Chief Mike Neymanowski about stationing a reserve officer at Scripter to watch things and provide a visible deterrent to would-be vandals and lawbreakers.
Patrol cars do periodically roll through the park at night, but Brantley indicated he's now aware of any offenders being caught in the act.
Realistically, the police can only do so much. That's why Brantley is urging citizens to step up and fill in the gaps.
"People who see stuff need to report it," Brantley said. "We've got to have more eyes and ears in the community. "
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.