The bad news is recent reports of vandalism at two city parks in Streator. The better news is a followup report the damage cleanup won’t be too expensive. The best news would’ve been no news at all — the routine mornings where police and park staff don’t get calls alerting them to a mess to clean.
On Oct. 3, Streator Police first heard of a damaged light at City Park’s Plumb Pavilion as well as spray paint on a few garbage cans. Later that morning, they took another call about damaged ceiling panels at Twister Hill Park, at Broadway and Madison streets.
Public Works Director Larry Hake followed up Monday to report the light will cost about $65 to repair, but the city already has what it needs to deal with the garbage cans and the Twister Hill ceiling panels were already fixed.
That information gives the impression these incidents were less likely heavy duty vandalism with malicious intent than the result of some people, probably kids, who didn’t really think before they acted.
Still, vandalism is a problem in Streator and anywhere else with public spaces, because some folks simply don’t care about the idea of property that belongs to everyone. Even a space as highly regarded at Starved Rock State Park isn’t immune from knuckleheads who care more about their own amusement than preserving something special for the benefit of all.
Because these are public spaces, responsibility for keeping them nice falls on everyone. We encourage our readers to keep an eye on their favorite parks. If you see someone in the act of vandalism definitely call police, but generally speaking it’s a good idea to pay attention to these public spaces and let someone know if something seems out of sorts.
The people who reported the Plumb Pavilion and Twister Hill issues did a public service because it allowed the city to act quickly to make repairs. This has the immediate effect of making sure the damage doesn’t get worse by being allowed to fester, but in the long term keeping parks clean is its own sort of deterrent.
A well-kept public space is a point of pride, and people who are vandals by matter of choice are more likely to tarnish a park that’s already in disarray — after all, who would notice? Obviously it’s impossible to fully prevent all of this crime, but if we all do a little to keep things in order, the power of community is likely to keep things moving in a positive direction.
Let this also serve as a reminder for parents to have a chat with their kids about how to treat community property. There are no identified suspects in these instances, and no one needs to go to jail, but when we take minor incidents seriously it sets a tone that this kind of conduct just isn’t welcome and hopefully discourages anything more serious.
Is a little park vandalism the biggest issue of the day? Far from it. But still we can think about our role in caring for public spaces and steps taken to keep things nice. Parks don’t happen by accident, city staff and volunteers put in a lot of time, money and work to create these spaces. We all should respect those efforts, because they truly do benefit the entire community.