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Colston is latest borough park hit by vandals; area youth return to fix up work they previously did

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 6/6/19

Public parks in Middletown are being hit by vandals, with Colston Park on South Wood Street the latest victim.

A borough police officer on patrol discovered the damage at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, …

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Colston is latest borough park hit by vandals; area youth return to fix up work they previously did

Posted

Public parks in Middletown are being hit by vandals, with Colston Park on South Wood Street the latest victim.

A borough police officer on patrol discovered the damage at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

Public Works Director Greg Wilsbach said he believes the vandalism occurred June 5.

Glass was broken around the concrete floor of the pavilion, and ceramic plates were smashed and broken on the sidewalk in front of the park sign, police posted on the borough’s Crimewatch site.

The pavilion beams and roof appeared to have been damaged, with pieces of a concrete cinder block found on the roof.

Flowers and plants were ripped out and strewn about, and graffiti was found on the floor of the pavilion, according to Crimewatch.

The flowers were recently planted by young people with the Middletown Communities That Care Youth Corps, Wilsbach said.

The corps is a group of 19 students in grades 5 through 9 in the Middletown Area School District. Its mission is to serve the community by doing volunteer projects such as planting flowers in the park.

The corps also weeded and put down mulch around the Colston Park sign, said Ellen Willenbecher, a borough councilor active with the Youth Corps and Communities That Care.

The reaction of the kids to their work being ripped out and strewn on the ground?

“They want to go back and do it again. The kids want to go back and replant Colston,” she told the Press & Journal on Thursday.

True to their word, 10 members of the Middletown Communities That Care Youth Corps were back Tuesday, planting flowers and spreading fresh tan bark, less than a week after the vandalism.

Why the vandals did what they did, if there even was a reason, was lost on Ivory Parker, a 14-year-old from Genesis Court who will be a freshman at Middletown Area High School this fall.

“All they did was make a good community look like a bad community, and we’re not a bad community,” said Parker, as she was planting new flowers in front of the park sign next to 11-year-old Kiley Shomper, of North Catherine Street.

“It’s really sad they would ruin something that’s really beautiful,” said Shomper, who will be going into sixth grade. “This is my hometown. I’d like to keep it nice and neat.”

Borough crews cleaned up the damage to the park Thursday morning. Wilsbach estimated total damage at $2,000, including time spent by borough staff and the purchase of materials.

Anyone with information about the vandalism is urged to contact police by calling 717-558-6900, or provide a tip through the Crimewatch page, www.middletownboroughpolice.com.

The vandalism is the latest incident at borough parks in recent weeks, Wilsbach said. Portable toilets at Hoffer Park were damaged in two incidents about two weeks ago.

The Oak Hills Park along Spruce Street has been hit repeatedly by vandals. New picnic tables have been damaged, with writing all over them, Wilsbach said. Vandalism has also been done to the park pavilion that had just been repainted last year.

No one has been arrested or prosecuted in any of these cases, to Wilsbach’s knowledge.

With no working security cameras in place, the only answer is increased patrol of all borough parks by the police, Wilsbach said. “It’s vandalism at all our parks.”