Waipahu park is latest to be hit by vandals

Waipahu park is latest to be hit by vandals
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

WAIPAHU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Vandals have tagged playground equipment, sidewalks, restrooms and community buildings at Crestview Community Park, irking Waipahu residents who say the park is neighborhood gathering place.

Residents noticed the damage on Easter, and park workers have started to pay over some of the grafitti.

But on Tuesday, there was still lots of work to be done.

A Crestview resident told Hawaii News Now this isn't the first time vandals have targeted the park, which has two large playing fields and is nestled in a residential community.

The resident says he believes the vandals are part of a group of teens who frequent the park and live in the community.

"I've see these guys hanging out along the wall, in the dugout, and they're openly smoking pot, even dealing drugs," he said. "We call the police, but by the time they arrive, or when they arrive, they're gone or scatter like the wind."

Pearl City police say they routinely patrol Crestview Community Park throughout the day along with the other nearly 50 parks in the area. Officers say they have also increased citations for park closure hours to help deter overnight criminal activity.

The Waipahu grafitti is the latest in a string of vandalism at city parks.

Earlier this month, vandals destroyed a bathroom at Keehi Lagoon. Vandals also torched portable toilets at Kaiaka Beach Park in January and March. And in January, an Ala Moana Beach Park toilet was smashed.

"Graffiti and property damage to our city parks is unacceptable," said City Councilman Brandon Elefante, whose district includes Waipahu. "The extensive graffiti and property damage at Crestview Park is the first time I've been aware of severe damage to the structures on park grounds."

Elefante urged residents to call police if they know who's behind the vandalism or if they spot any suspicious activity.

Part of the problem at Crestview Park could be a lack of lighting and security cameras.

City officials say a pilot security camera project at another Waipahu park, Hans L'Orange, is helping deter crime. And area residents believe cameras could help at Crestview Community Park as well.

"Lights and security initiatives are options that are definitely worth exploring," said Elefante.

Meanwhile, city officials say they're now exploring adding security cameras at some of the 213 comfort stations across Oahu.

City spokesman Andrew Pereira said in fiscal year 2015, which ended June 30, the city spent more than $140,000 on vandalism-related repairs. So far this fiscal year, the total is more than $100,000.

But the cost of putting cameras in at key parks does have its own price. 'It costs about $4,700 for camera equipment at one comfort station not including installation/labor costs," said Pereira.

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