Cookeville Mayor Laurin Wheaton said the closing of the Cookeville City Skate Park shows a disrespect for property and the rights of others.
The city’s Leisure Services Department closed the park Friday after the sixth instance of vandalism in less than a month. The latest incident happened Thursday. Wheaton said the vandalism has been occurring so frequently that the city now orders extra supplies in anticipation. Wheaton said it costs Cookeville money that she wishes could be used for other projects around the city.
“I’m really upset about this because the skate park is something that the city is very proud of. I know my kids actually love the skate park and we go there often,” Wheaton said. “But unfortunately there has been I think six separate acts of vandalism and within the last week two or three.”
Wheaton said that the destruction of publicly available property meant for children worries her. She said during the closure the city will pursue leads to catch those responsible for the vandalism, including reviewing security cameras.
“I hate the fact that the destructive and disrespectful actions of just a few people has caused now the entire community to get to enjoy their skate park,” Wheaton said.
Wheaton said it was the frequency and severity of the vandalism that led to the decision to close the skate park for the time being. Wheaton said the bathroom stall dividers were torn from the walls, signage was removed, and a picnic table was destroyed.
“Unfortunately this is not the first time that it’s happened at our parks either,” Wheaton said. “Recently Heart of the City Playground at Dogwood Park was vandalized, the sunscreens in the bathroom, so it just really breaks my heart that people don’t take pride in the great amenities that our city has to offer and again the actions of just a few people are negatively impacting our community like this.”
Wheaton said that the increase in the frequency of vandalism around the parks and playground has been recent. Wheaton said time spent by city workers cleaning up takes away from their ability to complete other projects in a timely manner.