COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Recent damage inflicted by vandalism on two consecutive nights at Venezia Park will cost around $30,000 to repair, a city official confirmed Monday.
The newer park on the city's northeast side also was targeted by vandals in 2018, which led officials to install $450,000 in security cameras designed to deter or prevent future damage.
"It involved destroying lights that were in the pavilions, ripping a water fountain off the wall of one of the restrooms, breaking into a restroom, destroying a magnetic lock that was on the door," said Kurt Schroeder, parks maintenance and operations manager for the city.
He said that the only suspect identified so far is a teen accused of marking graffiti and receiving a court summons.
"We do have some (camera) images but in the evening, the images aren't as good. And that is part of the reason we have suspicions of who may have perpetrated these crimes. We're working with police to find other suspects."
In the past few years, vandalism also has occurred at Memorial Park, Garden of the Gods and the Paint Mines Park in eastern El Paso County.
The city will use some federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to repair graffiti on monuments at Memorial Park, and the county has invested in measures to curb damage from vandalism at the Paint Mines.
Officials previously said that as our area grows, vandalism seems to be happening more often -- but they can't afford to install cameras ot fences, or hire security guards, at every park.
"Every day at some park, we have some kind of vandalism," Schroeder said. "We spend around $100,000 every year repairing damage, but that's money we could be using for other needs. "Why does it happen? Maybe it's COVID fatigue or boredom, or social media encouraging it."
Brian Bobeck, operations manager for county parks, said that vandalism isn't happening as often as in the city.
"We spend around $18,000 to $20,000 annually on repairs," he said.
However, in hopes of preventing future damage, Bobeck said that the county has installed automated gates at the entrance to The Pineries Open Space, in Black Forest, and will do the same at the new Kane Ranch Open Space near Fountain.
Bob Falcone, a well-known parks advocate, donated $1,000 to the CrimeStoppers $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects.
"And all the effort and money that went into it, to have that park damaged by vandals just kind of upset me, he said. "We're seeing vandalism in other parks, too. So it's not just about this park. I guess it was, for me, the last straw."