The dugouts at Milton’s recreation fields were freshly painted just before an unidentified vandal tore one down, town officials said last week.
The dugout, made of cinder blocks, was just one casualty in the vandalism spree at the Park Place fields: Spectator benches and soccer nets were upturned and broken, and trash was strewn across the playing fields sometime overnight on October 10, Milton police Officer Christopher Grenier said. A resident reported it around 10 a.m. the next day, he said.
The fields are located just behind the Bombardier Road municipal complex and police station. The dugouts, like much of the park equipment, were donated by community members, Selectboard Chairman Lou Mossey said.
Total damage is estimated at $14,000, depending on what can be fixed versus replaced, Public Works Supervisor Dustin Keelty said. The equipment is insured, but the town must meet its $500 deductible first, Human Resources Coordinator Brenda Comstock said.
Each bleacher cost $1,300 – $1,800, Keelty said. The town isn’t sure how much will come out-of-pocket, Public Works Director Craig Plumb said Monday.
Keelty’s crews put in nearly six hours of work cleaning up the park last Thursday, he said.
“It’s just discouraging,” said Keelty, adding he hasn’t seen this much damage to town property in his 10 years working there. “People have a lot of pride in the rec park, typically. And this year had actually been a really good year … not a lot of vandalism at all.”
Luckily, softball is over for the season, Keelty said, though he’s recently seen people seek out the shelters during rainy soccer matches. Ideally, the equipment will be fixed before Little League starts in the spring, he said.
Last Thursday, police canvassed the area for tire and shoe prints but came up empty-handed, Grenier said. There was also no evidence of a hammer or other instrument used to knock down the wall, and police ruled out wind and last week’s minor earthquake as causes, Grenier said.
Police will check surveillance tapes for suspicious vehicles or people, he said.
“It’s a small town – someone is gonna talk,” Grenier said. “It’s the kind of thing someone is gonna mention to a friend or someone might overhear. Hopefully someone will give us a call, even with an anonymous tip we can follow up with. It’s just a matter of time.”
Talk, indeed: As soon as the Independent posted this story online last Thursday, readers chimed in with offers to help rebuild the damaged equipment. Others suggested the vandals replace it.
At Monday’s Selectboard meeting, Chairman Mossey expressed dismay at the incident and said contractors and citizens supported the park so youth could have fun.
“This is a slap in the face to those people who put in that hard work, that hard earned money and made those donations,” Mossey said, looking directly into the TV camera. “There is no excuse for vandalism.”
Vice-Chairman Darren Adams said video cameras might be good investments for the parks and other town-owned recreational properties.
The crime is considered a felony and is punishable by five years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,000, police said.
Call Milton Police at 893-2424 or Champlain Valley Crime Stoppers at 864-6666 with any information.