Local volunteers have expressed their concerns about vandalism at Bastrop city parks to city officials. Proposals to solve the problem, however, may not be financially feasible.
Speaking on behalf of Keep Morehouse Beautiful and Bastrop Morehouse Dixie Youth Baseball, Vicki Carpenter praised the efforts of the city public works employees and volunteers for cleaning up litter at the city parks.
“But we still have a major issue to address, and that’s vandalism,” she said. “We cannot afford to keep our parks open 24 hours a day – it’s welcomed vandalism.”
Carpenter presented slides showing damage at East Madison and Carter parks, from a door kicked in to a light fixture torn down and vulgar, spray painted graffiti. Damage to the parks’ restrooms was so bad, she said, that photos could not be shown out of respect for the audience.
KMB proposes to close all restrooms except for one centrally located in each park, to request concession stand lease holders to lock restrooms at park closings, to repair all lighting and to lock the two parks from 9 p.m.-8 a.m., except during tournaments. The investment would have several benefits, she said, including reducing the cost of park maintenance for the city.
Bastrop Mayor Betty Alford-Olive said the problem of park vandalism is “shared by others,” not just Bastrop, and that the budget for making these changes presents “a challenge.
“We’ve worked very hard the last few years to trim over a million dollars off the budget, and the jury’s still out on how much more we are going to have to cut,” she said. “We just have to find a way to collectively work together [with KMB] to see what we can do. If we can access some [grant] money to do some things, we’ll do it.”
Public Works director Willie McKee said the proposal to lock the parks raises complications, such as the nighttime use of the basketball court at East Madison by local youth and the “overflow” of events at the Municipal Center into the RV park at Carter. His rough estimates for gating the parks ranges from $10-15,000, respectively.
City attorney Doug Lawrence said city officials have been discussing another means of solving the problem, which he declined to specify right now.
“There may be a way for us to track some of this vandalism activity,” he said.