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Sarasota Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010 7 years ago

City fights Payne Park vandals

by: Robin Roy City Editor

Because they’re a frequent vandalism target, the city is strengthening the lights surrounding the track at Payne Park.

This week city workers began welding the bollard lights to the ground, so they can’t be easily toppled.

Last week, 10 of the 96 lights were overturned, exposing the enclosed wires.

Since the park opened in 2007, the city has been called to the park 16 times to repair toppled lights. On each of those occasions, more than one light has been broken.

Most times, workers were able to simply set the lights upright again and maybe replace some broken glass. However, 10 lights had to be replaced at a cost of $2,000 a piece.

The city will not know how much the welding project will cost until it is complete.

Vice Mayor Kelly Kirschner was a witness to some of the vandalism last month. Four kids, one who looked as young as 10 Kirschner said, toppled bollard lights in plain sight.

“One of (the kids) had no shame,” he said. “He was riding his bike past an adult, bragging about the damage he had done.”

Kirschner called the police, and the four boys were caught. Two of the boys have been arraigned. The state attorney’s office is beginning to work on the cases for the other two.

The vice mayor said because these kids are our neighbors, all residents should come together over this problem.

“We should engage the children and their parents,” he said.

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