“It’s really hard to stomach when people do that, it’s really not smart,” Executive Director of Minot Park District Ron Merritt said.
Merritt says some recent visitors to the park have not been friendly.
“We’ve seen an uptick in vandalism, we’re seeing some graffiti, typical things like that. We saw some damage to siding at our amphitheater in Oak Park,” Merritt said.
Despite the rise in damage, according to local law enforcement, calls are staying steady for these types of crimes.
“In the last couple years, we’ve averaged about one case a month being reported to us. We’re also well aware that’s grossly under-representative of the actual events that are occurring,” Community Outreach Officer with the Minot Police Department Aaron Moss said.
And these events are costing the parks more than just cleanup labor.
“It costs our taxpayers money because we have to repair, you know, the damage that is done. It takes our staff away from other things they’re trying to do this time of the year all of our seasonal staff are gone,” Merritt said.
Merritt says the repairs for vandalism average at about $15,000 a year for the parks.
One year even saw $30,000 go toward fixing up the affected areas.
And although these crimes can be considered low-level and might be a simple fine, the punishment for them can escalate quickly.
“If there’s a larger series of events that could be aggregated into a much larger financial loss that could potentially be prosecuted as a felony case,” Moss said.
Merritt says staff in the parks have taken action to prevent more of these crimes from happening.
“We’re putting up security cameras which is another expense that we’d rather not be the money on those but it’s necessary,” Merritt said.
Overall, both law enforcement and park staff are reminding community members to keep an eye out in order to keep the parks safe and clean.
“Be a good witness and then let us follow up and see if we can identify the person,” Moss said.
“Our citizens they own all of the things we take care of so we want them to help us out and make sure that things stay nice,” Merritt said.