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Vandalism a recurring problem at Littleton fields

April 28, 2010
LITTLETON—Vandalism continues to be a problem at recreation facilities throughout town.

Last week Park Commissioner Bryan Hadlock gave a presentation to the Board of Selectmen about some of problems that occur almost nightly at some of the fields and other facilities throughout town such as Remich Park.

"Everything that can be touched is being ruined," Hadlock said. "They are taking away from the residents and children of Littleton."

Hadlock said he and the other park commissioners don't want to have to end up closing anything but that is what might happen "if common sense and ingenuity don't work." All recreation areas are already closed at dusk, he noted.

The playing fields near Norton Pike are being driven on so often that the field had to be fenced off. The new owners of the Norton Pike building, Sabbow and Company, paid for the fencing Hadlock said.

The pace of vandalism "is accelerating every night," Hadlock said. He gave the example of heavy four by four wooden posts set in concrete in the ground that are constantly being ripped up by hand, without using a vehicle of any sort.

The Brickyard field on Brickyard Road has also been hit repeatedly, Hadlock said.

Because the Recreation Department has a $1,000 deductible, the expenses have been adding up quickly with each occurrence.

Police Chief Paul Smith noted his officers watch the parks at night but cannot be everywhere.

Someone suggested motion activated lights but Hadlock said kids intentionally set those off in order to have light. The lights were actually removed to discourage use of the parks at night.

Hadlock proposed having night vision security cameras installed at various locations watching key areas. Quite a few would be needed to cover various fields and they would have to be placed high enough where they could not be vandalized themselves.

"We'd have to put them where kids couldn't spray paint them and cover them," Hadlock said after the meeting.

Hadlock said he has already begun looking at cameras and they would cost somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 to start with, though where the money would come from he didn't know. There has also been talk of having a neighborhood watch in some of the affected areas, he said.

Selectman Marghie Seymour asked if a rewards system had been set up to pay people who might reveal who some of the perpetrators are.

Hadlock said that not happened yet, as there was no money for that.

Smith said it was possible to do that, though usually such monetary rewards are used for more high profile crimes.

Resident Jere Eames supported the cameras and said, "That's how you're going to nab them."

Hadlock said a lot of people objected to cameras because of privacy issues, they feel they're being spied on.

"Those are the people who are doing the vandalism," Eames said.

Hadlock said his department is accepting the donation of large rocks that might be used to block off some of access to the fields from these damaging vehicles.

Garnett Hill
Martin Lord Osman
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