Children and adults in West Richland have fewer places to play this summer because of vandals.
Paradise, Enterprise, Coyote and South Highlands neighborhood parks have been vandalized in the past eight days, with the damage including graffiti, a broken water fountain and destroyed playground equipment.
Vandals also hit three of the regulation-size soccer fields at the Bombing Range Sports Complex, ripping up the playing surfaces with tire tracks.
"Someone went in there and spun brodies, destroying the fields," said Roscoe C. Slade, public works director for the city. "They've done it at least twice.
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"It's frustrating. Those fields were reserved all summer for youth and adult soccer leagues. Now they'll be closed two, three months, maybe longer," Slade said.
The city has a couple of other soccer fields, but none are the full, regulation size. They can't accommodate all the practices, games and tournaments that had been scheduled.
City workers have been too busy scrubbing away graffiti and filling out police reports to assess the damages. The graffiti ranges from crude language to inappropriate pictures.
"It will run into the thousands of dollars when you consider the cost of repairs, replacing the grass in the soccer fields and man hours spent doing it," Slade said.
The city has insurance, but it's too soon to know how much of the damage will be covered. There's limited money in the parks fund to deal with it, Slade said.
The vandals, if caught, could be charged with a felony if the damage exceeds $5,000, according to Sgt. Duane Olsen of the West Richland police.
What really hurts is that a state grant paid half the costs of putting in the soccer fields at the sports complex, Slade said. The other half was paid for in sweat equity.
"We had volunteers from the community and companies too who donated equipment. It was a true community project," Slade said.
Both Slade and Olsen ask the community to report to the police any information relating to the vandalism using the non-emergency number, 509-628-9333.
"If you see something suspicious, if your "Spidey" sense goes off, call," Olsen said. "But if you see someone actually committing vandalism, go ahead call 911."
The parks close at 11 p.m. "After that, no one has any business there," Olsen said.
w Loretto J. Hulse: 509-582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org
Veterans memorial targeted
Parks aren't the only targets of West Richland vandals. The veterans memorial -- The Final Tribute -- in Flat Top Park was damaged in mid-March.
Since then, members of Combat Veterans International Chapter 3 have been raising money to pay for repairs.
The group held a motorcycle run May 31 starting at Ty's Bar and Grill in West Richland, raising more than $2,100. That amount was matched by Steve Berven, the bar's owner.
The combat veterans and West Richland Chamber of Commerce have raised almost $12,000. The estimate for repairs, a decorative metal fence and a security system is $25,000. Part of the money they raise may also need to go into a fund to pay for future upkeep of the memorial.
Donations can be made to the West Richland Area Chamber of Commerce, 6102 W. Van Giesen St., West Richland, WA 99353. Be sure to include a note earmarking it for Combat Veterans International.
Dan Richey, a member of the group, gave an update on repairs at the West Richland City Council meeting on June 17.
w Pat Artz of Benton City, who built the original memorial, has fixed and reinforced the rifle and helmet. They are at Custom Coat in Pasco, which is donating its powder coating services.
w Remcoe Electric in West Richland has offered to donate all electrical services to repair the lighting at the memorial.
w West Richland has offered to pay part of the costs to purchase and install surveillance equipment at the memorial.