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Vandals cause problems in downtown Depot Park

Ralph Naigle with broken pieces of a swing set that again needs repairing. Photo by D. Rush (click for larger version)
September 14, 2011 - As far Ralph Naigle is concerned, 2011 has been a banner year. A banner year for vandalism

A seven-year employee for the City of the Village of Clarkston, Naigle said he has never seen a year with as much shenanigans as he saw this year.

"It's the worse I've seen. These kids won't be respectful. We try to keep the (Depot) park looking good, but we come back in the morning and they've done something else."

Daigle has repaired wooden swing sets time and again. And, each time he does, somebody jumps, kicks, pulls -- breaks what he and other city employees have done.

Playground equipment has been turned over and broken and the Depot Park Gazebo has the scars of war from folks riding their skateboards and scooters down the steps.

Most of the vandalism occurs in the dark of the night, after the park closes at 10. But, Naigle said a "core group" of kids has been approached and talked to during the day.

"They all stand around and block the path so people have to walk around. They don't care. They don't respect anything," he said.

According to city manager Dennis Ritter, the Oakland County Sheriff's Department has been helpful. A deputy has even talked to a number of the high-schoolers, many of them skateboarders and "scooter kids."

The kids, Ritter added, also ride their skate boards on the stone and cement gates and accents in the park and parking lot adjacent to the Mill Pond.

"Those caps are chipped and scraped. They only way to fix them is to replace them. Ultimately, the parents will be held responsible," he said.

Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: don@dontrushmedon.com
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