Due to rising graffiti costs and concerns, the City of Oakdale is asking community members to help keep the popular skate park clean and safe from taggers or else the city may have to resort to less palatable options, one of which is closing the park.
For the month of March, the city had a total of nine graffiti incidents at the skate park, which was a sharp rise from three incidents in February and four in January.
While police recently arrested a serial vandal responsible for multiple graffiti incidents at the skate park, the problem remains unabated.
City staff started tracking these incidents and the time it took to clean up the graffiti, which included material costs and staff time.
According to Patrick Mondragon, Assistant to the City Manager/HR, material costs alone logged an average yearly cost of $6,600, and the time it takes to clean up the messes left behind has put a strain on staff resources.
“Our parks employees are already stretched pretty thin,” Mondragon admitted.
The popularity of the skate park year-round is a testament to the hard work and dedication of those who helped make it happen but actions of a thoughtless few have made it necessary to explore new options.
“We want to make sure everyone can enjoy the park for the foreseeable future,” Oakdale City Manager Bryan Whitemyer said, adding in regards to the graffiti, “At the end of the day, if this were to continue, there would have to be some kind of consequence. We just can’t operate the bathroom anymore and we don’t want to get to that place but we could if the community decided that they don’t want to help.”
To that end, the city has decided to add signage to the park listing the consequences of park vandalism, which includes the increase of a hefty fine, as well as the reward for information leading to the arrest of people found guilty of vandalism.
“It’s a beautiful city asset that we want to keep looking nice,” Mondragon said.
The city is also interested in discussing the possibility of a volunteer watch group, similar to the Neighborhood Watch, that could help deter this type of crime in the area, as well as the option to text or call a hotline in the event someone witnesses a vandal in action.
City staffers were quick to assure council that closing the park was the least favored option but help was needed to stop vandals from defacing the popular destination.
For more information on how to help protect the skate park, call Oakdale City Hall at 209-845-3571.