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Recent park vandalism discussed during Mayor’s briefing

Recent vandalism to a slide at Emery Park
Recent vandalism to a slide at Emery Park(City of Wichita)
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 11:52 AM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - If you’ve participated in recent vandalism at Wichita parks and playgrounds, the City of Wichita wants to show you a more law-abiding and rewarding path.

“We want to work with those folks that are vandalizing our parks,” Wichita Parks and Recreation director Troy Houtman said Thursday. “It could be with graffiti or it could be something (more serious). We want to find alternate ways to enjoy our parks, not destroy our parks.”

Houtman’s outreach during Mayor Brandon Whipple’s weekly media briefing came in light of the destruction of playground equipment and what Houtman called a ransacking of a swimming pool facility. It’s hitting the city hard in two areas - the cost it takes to replace equipment and the financial resources it diverts from other services.

The most unsightly vandalism came this week when the City said someone used a blowtorch to burn a hole in a slide at Emery Park. Houtman said the repair is $5,000, but Wichita’s Community Foundation offered to pay half.

A vandal took a blow torch to children's play equipment destroying a slide, harming other surfaces, and causing over...

Posted by City of Wichita- Government on Tuesday, January 11, 2022

“We don’t have infinite money,” Whipple said. “We definitely want to keep our parks safe and not cut (from) other areas.”

Houtman also mentioned the destruction of a device that controls splash pads at a local park, another $5,000 tab. A swimming pool facility was broken into and trashed, which came with more of an emotional cost.

“It’s so disappointing and so disheartening, because we work really hard to make these amenities available to all our kids across the city,” Houtman said.

The vandalism is found when a playground inspector visits every Wichita site monthly. Recently, a burned platform on a piece of playground equipment was found, along with other less noticeable damage that comes at a cost.

“It hits us twice as hard,” Houtman said. “We’re looking and making upgrades and replacements, and then we have to put them on hold to make these repairs.”

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