Staff battle vandalism and theft in Spokane City Parks daily

KREM 2's Lindsay Nadrich explains how routine maintenance of park bathrooms has to take a back burner as crews deal with an uptick in vandalism in Browne's Addition and downtown Spokane.

SPOKANE, Wash. – Spokane City Parks are meant for the entire community to enjoy, but some people are abusing the park bathrooms so badly staff can hardly keep up with repairs. KREM 2 looked into the problem plaguing Coeur d’Alene Park in Brownes Addition, as well as, many other City parks.

David Randolph, the Grounds and Facilities Foreperson for the City of Spokane Parks and Recreation Department, said he is extremely passionate about keeping all City parks in pristine condition.

“I love parks, I love my job, and I hope we can continue to do a better job,” Randolph said. “There is always room for improvement. We can always do better. We just have to find ways to do it.”

Randolph has worked for the parks department for 34 years. In that time, he said he has seen vandalism and theft from park bathrooms dramatically increase. The problem has become so bad, sometimes staff only has time to respond to repairs.

Staff said the toilets have been clogged with hypodermic needles, soda cans, items of clothing, pine cones, and rocks. The toilets also continue to be damaged by people stealing metal. The theft problem became so bad, the City engraved the metal on the toilets with the City’s name to help deter the theft. With the engraving, the metal is harder to sell at a recycling facility for cash.

Graffiti on bathroom walls has also continued to be a problem. There is a person on staff, whose only job is to cover graffiti 40 hours a week.

Staff explained that increased vandalism has pushed routine maintenance to the bottom of the list. So, if you have ever wondered why a park has not been mowed or weeds have not been pulled, it is likely staff have been dealing with repairs.

 “My job is to make the parks look presentable for the public and our visiting guest,” Randolph explained. “When all you are doing is taking care of vandalism and destruction, it is very discouraging. But, if we give up, then they’ve won. So, we can’t give up.”

Vandalism is not just a problem in Coeur d’Alene Park. All 60 parks in the City of Spokane are experiencing the same issues of theft and vandalism.  If you visit a park and see a problem, the Parks and Recreation Department asks you call 311 and report it immediately before the problem gets worse. 

© 2017 KREM-TV


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