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Vandals keep striking Hammond Village Park

Around two or three times a month, the Hammond Village Park is vandalized in some way, said Hammond Police Chief Rick Coltrain.

Coltrain said most of the vandalism is minor, like broken soap dispensers and minor damage to picnic tables.

The park bathrooms, Coltrain said, take most of the abuse, from the broken soap dispensers to the occasional broken toilet. He said the bathrooms' glass block windows, which let in light but can't be seen through, have been broken so many times that one of them is just boarded up.

"People don't understand how much the costs are behind the scenes of small vandalism," Coltrain said. "It comes back to cut into the costs of the village."

In addition to the price of replacing soap dispensers, windows, toilets, etc., Coltrain said the village also has to pay the people who fix the broken items. Often, Coltrain said, the people fixing damaged park items are public works employees, and fixing broken park items pulls them away from their regular duties.

Because of the price of vandalism, Coltrain recommended the purchase of a video surveillance system to the village board at their last meeting. The board members agreed vandalism was a problem, but voted not to buy the video surveillance system, saying they would like to look into other options first.

"With the budget cuts, we're trying to find a way to protect the village," Coltrain said.

He said he will continue to look into video surveillance, and see if he can find other options to present to the village board. He said he has researched video surveillance and seen it working well for other cities.

"I'll bring it back to [the village board] again, because I feel strongly about it," Coltrain said.

Meanwhile, Coltrain asked that anyone who happens to see anything suspicious in the Village Park, call the police.

"Just go ahead and please call right away," Coltrain said. "Any help we can get will be great."

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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