Jane Lew City Council announced at their Monday meeting, they have various projects in store for Jane Lew Park, some projects spurring from ongoing vandalism issues concerning the park.
Vandalism to a piece of playground equipment has left a safety concern on the shoulders of council members. Officials have put in a significant amount of time and effort in maintaining the equipment and safety of the park, only to discover their efforts are not long-lasting.
Despite repeatedly fixing equipment at the park, no longer than a day after the repair is made, they are learning the equipment has once again been destroyed. This time, however, council voted to completely remove the problem equipment, described as a duck, from its current designated location, and possibly reinstall it elsewhere.
A man who entered the park in a white vehicle with two children was caught on security cameras repeatedly kicking the equipment until it broke while his children were in the park.
“It was like he was personally offended by it,” said Councilwoman Phyllis Hinterer. “It was weird.”
Anyone with any information about the man, his motive, or any other vandalism at the park are urged to contact the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department.
Prior to being destroyed once more, when Dominion Energy provided improvements to the park, they repaired and properly tested this equipment. When it is broken, as it is frequently found to be, it creates a separate safety issue, because jutting up from its underground foundation is a sharp metal object that isn’t an issue when the equipment is properly installed. Council members and residents alike are worried about someone getting hurt, but cannot keep it properly installed due to vandalism.
Members plan to contract GL Stone of Hamlin to remove the entire foundation beneath the equipment and set it up elsewhere.
Council members decided to separate the playground equipment, creating a unique area designated specifically for younger children, such as toddlers, which can aid in keeping them from using certain equipment they are not yet the proper age for.
New labeling will be installed at the park, including a sign to identify the park and signs to label the age group allowed for children playing on park equipment.
Councilwoman Kayla Neely showed town officials a small lady bug, recommending its purchase for younger children at the park. She said its size will hopefully discourage adults and children too old for the equipment from using it. The equipment’s recommended age group is five or six. The lady bug costs $1,270. Council also plans to buy a toddler seat and contract GL Stone to install this equipment, as well.
Straley said Lewis County Sheriff Adam Gissy recommended adding additional cameras in the park at various angles to pick up more of the vandalism to aid in investigation. To enhance security measures, council members hope to install better lighting toward the creek to maximize visibility in the area, and are looking into better lighting and camera upgrades to extend coverage. Straley said Gissy specifically recommended hunting cameras.
Gissy will have Lewis County sheriff’s deputies check the park at night, Straley said.
Straley added that she contacted Gissy about a strange man reported to be hanging around the park at night. Other issues include four-wheeler races being conducted late at night in the park and vandalism which includes drawings of male genitalia and foul language on the trail.
A request to add what council members all agreed was a much needed additional pavilion in the park had to be put on the back burner to allow council to prioritize a sewage/drainage issue in the park building’s restrooms. The extent of the issue has not yet been determined, and therefore the cost of the repair is not yet available. Frazier said it is possible the lines may have to be completely redone, saying he anticipates that they are very old.
Jane Lew Town Council needs a qualified business or contractor, with all appropriate and current certifications necessary to undertake the job, to come to the park, assess the issue and provide an estimation for the work. Those qualified and interested are encouraged to contact Jane Lew Town Hall with their details. Calling does not guarantee the work. Council will decide who is best qualified.