Dallastown Community Park closed after officials say kids vandalized property

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DALLASTOWN, Pa. -- Officials in Dallastown said kids keep vandalizing the community park, and this year it has gotten worse.

Now they are trying to teach those kids a lesson by closing Dallastown Community Park to all visitors.

Officials said they've had to repaint pavilions after kids painted drew graffiti on the walls, pick up trash left on the ground and fix metal garbage cans. They said kids have tried to burn the metal tables, and jump on them. One time they even managed to get a park bench on a pavilion roof.

David Garabedian, the Dallastown Zoning and Codes enforcement officer, said, "We slowly tried to catch kids when it's happening or ask groups of kids, and it might get better for a little bit, and then it'll always just return back to being damaged."

Some of the kids committing the crimes have been identified with security cameras and borough officials have passed that information on to police.

Regardless, managers said fixing the park is costing thousands of dollars.

Garabedian said, "It does eventually go back to the taxpayers because we're out here cleaning up something that shouldn't be done when we could actually be maintaining the community and the borough itself."

Then over the weekend, borough officials said a child was bitten by a dog at the dog park.

"It was the last nail in the coffin that did it," Garabedian said.

People who live in the area said those kids who vandalize the park ruin the experience for others.

Patti Bream, the pastor at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, said, "I'm disappointed that the youth don't have more respect for the community property and everybody else has to pay that price. But hopefully we can work with the borough and figure out a solution that makes it open for everyone at some point and time."

Some think closing the park may not be in a permanent solution.

Shannon Werner of Dallastown said, "I think it's a good message, but I have a feeling that then those kids are just going to go somewhere else where they can get into it."

With a beautiful weekend in the forecast, officials said closing the park might drive the lesson home to kids.

Garabedian said, "I think it might hurt. Eighty degree weather and you want to play basketball, or use the park, or even take your dog for a walk. And it's not even just the children. Now you're actually hurting the older generation in the borough. They can't come and enjoy its facilities because of that reason."

Those who have already paid to use the baseball field will still be allowed to play their games.

Officials plan to bring up this topic at the next council meeting. There is no word on when the park will reopen.