Images of Kitsap County
Public Communications (MS-11)
614 Division Street, Port Orchard, WA
Phone: 360.337.4598
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Date:

 January 29, 2010

 Contact:

 Jim Dunwiddie, Director
 Kitsap County Parks and Recreation

 Phone:

 360-337-5350

 No:

 2010-10

Vandalism at County Parks Hurts Already Scarce Financial Resources

(Port Orchard) – Like other general fund departments in Kitsap County, the Parks & Recreation Department has significantly trimmed their budget during the past two years. This year, an additional $325,000 was cut from the budget. While money is set aside for routine maintenance and equipment replacement, vandalism is much like an unfunded mandate. Vandalism at the parks, and the equipment and materials stolen, must be repaired and replaced. Department Director Jim Dunwiddie recently noted that the current budget requires difficult decisions just to keep parks open, let alone allocating scarce financial resources to replace or repair that which vandals take or destroy.

Already this year, vandals have struck twice at the Fairgrounds & Events Center in Bremerton, placing community activities at the parks in jeopardy. On January 12th, seven barns were broken into at the County fairgrounds. Facility doors and hasps were pried open or kicked in, small tools were stolen, and metal flashing was taken. “This incident alone has about $500 in direct costs, and required almost a full day of labor to fix,” said Dunwiddie. “That might not seem like much, but that’s money that will not be used where we planned to use it,” he said.

Vandals struck again during the weekend of January 23rd and 24th. Thieves cut copper wires on ball field light poles at the Fairgrounds. The copper wire was stolen, rendering the lights unusable. The theft was discovered Monday night when a Parks & Recreation employee attempted to turn on the lights for a local youth soccer group. Thieves cut fencing around the ball field to gain entry then broke into electrical boxes on each light pole to get to the wiring. Similar criminal activity was recently discovered on athletic fields in Pierce County. The Kitsap County repair costs for the wiring, electrical boxes and mending of fences are expected to be significant. Without lights, the youth soccer group had to cancel their activity and, until repairs are made, no future evening activities can be scheduled on any of the Fairgrounds ball fields. Initial estimates indicate repairs for this vandalism may cost up to $80,000.

In 2009, vandalism and theft of County Park property cost taxpayers more than $42,000 in repairs and replacements costs, as well as an additional $4,500 in labor costs. Nearly 200 personnel hours were spent attending to vandalism and theft throughout the County Parks system. Parks Superintendent, Dori Leckner said that the Department staff is continuously looking at ways to reduce vandalism, including a surveillance system to deter undesirable activities. Fair & Special Events Manager Frank Abbott added that “We are asking our community to help us protect their investment in the Fairgrounds & Events Center and all of our other recreational facilities and parks throughout the County.”

“The sheriff’s office is aware of the increase in criminal activity that’s occurring at county parks & recreation facilities,” said Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer. “And I am a strong advocate of the ‘broken windows theory. This thesis posits that something as simple as a building with a broken window signals abandonment, a ‘care less attitude’ concerning the property of others, and therefore an absence of respect for the law,” added the sheriff.

“We will devote the resources available, in this limited budget environment, to investigate incidents of theft / vandalism and arrest offenders,” he said. “County park facilities belong to all of us and we pay for them with taxes. Taxes also pay for repairs. We can’t allow the ‘broken windows syndrome’ to flourish here.”

Any suspicious or illegal activity should be reported to 9-1-1. Send your observations to the Sheriff’s Office online at www.kitsap911.org/report.htm, directly to 9-1-1 or by phone during office hours at (360) 377-7101 or contact Kitsap County Parks & Recreation by email at parks@co.kitsap.wa.us or by phone during office hours at (360) 337-5350.

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To contact the Public Communications Manager, 
call Doug Bear at 360-337-4598 or email: dbear@co.kitsap.wa.us

Last Updated:  May 27, 2014