COLORADO SPRINGS – Parks across Colorado Springs and El Paso County are seeing a rise in vandalism over the last year. Officials say the price tag to fix damages tallies around $63,000 for vandalism repairs in 2021.
Repairs and clean-up costs directly take away from park improvements and projects, along with regular maintenance. But stopping vandalism before it happens is no easy feat.
“You don’t know why people do it and you don’t know when they’re going to do it,” said Kyle Melvin with El Paso County Parks.
El Paso County Parks overlooks more than 8,000 acres of land with only two full-time security officers.
“To add security officers, we need the funding and that’s been the challenge at this point. We could use more funding for more security positions to become more proactive instead of reactive,” said Melvin.
The more than $60,000 price tag for vandalism repairs and clean-up comes from the Park Department’s budget. Graffiti is the most common but it’s not the most expensive vandalism. Park rangers say they’ve seen it all.
“Everything from graffiti, vehicles running into grates, tree cutting, arson, facility damage, restroom vandalism,” said Melvin. “Someone burnt an equestrian course bridge completely to the ground. That was about $16,000 worth of damage. And then someone lit one of our restrooms on fire.”
The biggest price tag from the year was nearly $22,000 to rebuild a burnt down bathroom at Willow Springs Pond.
“We have to compensate for our losses using our maintenance budget,” said Melvin. “It could absolutely be used for projects, landscape renovations, turf improvements and park amenity improvements.”
El Paso County Parks is ramping up security measures to curb this uptick in vandalism. Two big things they’re adding is more fencing to keep people out after hours and more cameras to catch people in the act.
Park officials encourage you to call them if you ever see something suspicious. Contact the Parks Department by clicking here. You can also call them at (719) 520-7529.
“The properties we’re opening in 2022, Kane Ranch is an example, we have infrastructure in place to prevent and eliminate as much vandalism as possible in those new properties,” said Melvin