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By Michelle Vance
District Manager 

Calling a few 'Angels' to deter park vandalism

Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District

 

March 2, 2019

Michelle Vance

There's no doubt Tehachapi's parks are a major asset to the community. From quality of life enhancement to health benefits, our beautiful parks make life in the mountains more complete.

For our team at Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District, keeping them safe and thriving is our passion. We are working on a list of repairs and rejuvenation projects for the 116-acres of park land and the five facilities under our care. But we need your help.

Graffiti and vandalism cost us greatly. We spend thousands of dollars each year on vandalism repairs. We can do better than that. After listening to the opinions and concerns from the community, we're happy to announce a new program that will not only keep our parks better protected but bond our mission with community involvement.

We are looking to initiate a Park Angel program, in partnership with the Tehachapi Parks Foundation and local law enforcement agencies, that will keep more eyes on our beautiful parks. It will operate in the classic, "see something, say something" model with volunteers placing calls to law enforcement at the first sign of vandalism or wrong-doing.

Volunteers will sign up for shifts throughout the day, seven days a week, to walk our local parks and keep their eyes open to costly damages in progress. They will be trained in the proper procedures and be given a direct number to the police. If any suspicious activity is in progress, say something, so we can get ahead of this issue and save our funds for the exciting rejuvenation products we have lined up.

"Vandalism can contribute to perceptions of fear because litter, graffiti and broken furniture all suggest a place is uncared for and possibly unsafe," according to the National Recreation and Park Association.

Reports from NRPA and our own accounts tells us, that it's not only the aesthetic quality that can be lost to vandalism, but physical safety as well. We not only want you to be proud of your community, but safe. A specific concern for us at TVRPD is the safety and maintenance of public restrooms.

"Vandals routinely target concession stands, storage sheds and bathrooms, damaging expensive fixtures, 'decorating' with graffiti or helping themselves to supplies. Sometimes, the public restroom becomes an individual's personal shower stall. Restrooms can be particularly difficult to monitor and secure. Privacy is the number one concern with safety a close second, when it comes to deciding how to discourage troublemakers," NPRA reports.

Every week, and often every day, we fix vandalism in our public restrooms ... and it is costly. Graffiti is one battle, but broken toilets, soap dispensers and doors make the restrooms undesirable and often unusable. Soap dispensers ripped from the wall and broken cost us $100 each time to replace. Clogged and broken toilets have been an easy target for those looking to cause some trouble. This is such a waste of valuable taxpayer money.

We want you to feel safe and comfortable using any and all facilities at your local parks. As much as we work daily to combat the impact of vandalism, we are only a handful of people and 116-acres takes a lot of eyes.

Join us to keep costly vandalism out of our lovely parks. We don't have staff or park rangers on duty 24/7 to catch these issues before they become an expensive problem, but we all have a chance to make a difference and protect our investment to the community. We need to be vigilant and the Park Angels program is a great start.

If you enjoy taking a walk and being outdoors this program would be a perfect fit. – Please contact me at m.vance@tvrpd.org. As we finalize the program, we will announce the training and invite the community to participate and you can take an active role in protecting your investment.

 
 

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