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Vandalism poses rising problem in Price city parks

Sun Advocate reporter

An uptick in vandalism in area parks within Price City has some concerned about what the city can do to help prevent the problem from continuing to grow.

Chad Greenhalgh, Parks, Recreation and Cemetery supervisor with Price City, spoke about his concerns with graffiti in the city to the Price City council last week. Over the past few months vandalism has been taking place in and around Price City area, Greenhalgh said.

"It's been increasing rapidly over time," he said. "It happens every day."

Greenhalgh said he has seen many different instances of vandalism around the city, but there is not one particular method being used. He provided the city council with numerous pictures showing the damage done with spray paint, fire, and general damage caused by people.

Some of the examples included burned out garbage cans, graffiti covered walls on buildings at city parks and more. Some of the vandalism Greenhalgh photographed was accentuated with the use of explicit language.

Greenhalgh described one particular instance of how fast vandalism can occur in the city. He told the city council that work on a building at a park was finished before the end of a regular work day. When he arrived at the site the following morning, someone had tagged the structure with graffiti.

The city does have cameras located in many areas, Greenhalgh said, but that hasn't prevented the damages from occurring. Because some areas of the city are not equipped with cameras or motion lights, the city can expect to see the vandalism continue on a regular basis, according to Aleck Shilaos, Price City police chief.

"It [cameras] helps a great deal, but vandalism will still occur with cameras around the city," said Shilaos. "The cameras would be helpful in identifying the perpetrators and hopefully stopping the actions of vandalism."

Councilors discussed options the city could implement, including adding more cameras, to try and quell the problems pertaining to vandalism. Shilaos said the city can look into implementing new techniques, but they should focus on possibly fixing the curfew times in city parks and for youth in the city.

Curfew times range from 10 to 11 p.m. between different ages groups. People under the age of 16 have a curfew of 10 p.m. and those between the ages of 16-18 have a curfew of 11 p.m., Shilaos said. Those curfews are different from the ones set at parks around the city, he explained.

To help shore up the problems with the curfews between the parks and the general city curfew, Shilaos said the city should look into changing the curfew times so they are identical and share the same specific details.

A stronger curfew may need to be enacted for things to work, Shilaos said, noting the current curfew structure is"very weak right now."

While he agreed with the ideas pertaining to new curfew times, Councilman Jeff Nielson questioned whether the police would have the time or the ability to go around asking everyone what their ages are when they are in city owned areas.

Shilaos argued that a curfew along with more police presence around city parks would be the best method in trying to cut down the number of instances of vandalism.

While everyone may be quick to point the finger at juveniles being responsible for every instance of vandalism around the city, Shilaos said that isn't always the case. The police department has to deal with problems of homeless people lingering around city parks as well, he said.

"It's not just the kids doing these things out there," he said.

While out patrolling around the city parks, Shilaos said officers have seen teens hanging out in the parks late into the night. But vandalism is not the only activity the teens were engaging in.

Shilaos said police have seen teenagers hanging around Dino Mine Park as late as 3 a.m. partaking in some different activities other than vandalism.

Trying to find an exact cause to the uptick in vandalism within the city, Greenhalgh said he was not sure of any specific reason. With teens and college-aged people on their summer breaks, Shilaos thinks that may be one of the causes for vandalism as they may be dealing with boredom.

Councilwoman Kathy Hanna-Smith suggested the city possibly work on a media campaign to inform the community about what is taking place, helping to create a better awareness about vandalism. This could help lead to people and neighborhoods near area parks to be more watchful about the activities taking place that the police may not always be around to see happening.

The use of cameras is a good deterrent for stopping vandalism, said Joe Piccolo, Price City mayor. While the use of more cameras is one way the city can put into motion, he suggested the city implement other methods of trying to quell the problem such as spending more time focusing on education, awareness and enforcement.

"I don't believe you can do it all with enforcement," Piccolo said. "There needs to be a combination of many factors, a 'delicate balance' to make this work."

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