BEREA, Ohio - Vandalism at Coe Lake Park in Berea has reached such a level that the city has installed several video surveillance cameras there. The cameras have been up and running for just about a week. Berea Director of Public Safety Kenneth Adams said much of the damage they have been dealing with is typical.
“Picnic tables thrown in the lake over here, we have pool chairs thrown into the pool, some carvings into the sandstone or into some of the wood items that we have, spray paint, things like that.”
The city has tried to deal with acts of vandalism in the park by repairing damaged structures and removing graffiti as quickly as they occur. Many visitors in the park told NewsChannel 5 that they weren’t even aware that vandalism in the park was a problem.
Recently, the city spent more that $20,000 to build a pergola in a place that visitors could sit and enjoy the beauty of the lake around them. When someone had spray-painted the memorial bricks that were installed there, Adams said the Coe Lake Committee, who oversees the park, had had enough and asked the city to take action.
“That was kind of like the tipping point to try to address the committee’s concerns to at least be able to reduce the vandalism and increase the chances of who may be vandalizing our property. ”
The cameras were placed in areas that have been favorite targets of vandals. Some of the cameras are obvious but many are in places that are hidden from public view. City officials hope that installing the cameras may make someone think twice about damaging or defacing areas of the park. But if the vandalism continues, the cameras will help to identify those responsible.
“What we’re doing is to trying to prevent any activity that we can,” said Adams. “If someone was to commit some type of vandalism, it increases our chances of catching who that person may be.”
The cost to the city to install the cameras was about $14,000 but Adams said that cost is less expensive than having city service workers out there repairing the damage.
“The total cost of manpower and equipment to address some of this vandalism could far exceed $14,000 or $15,000 a year.”
Adams stressed that there has been little criminal activity there and the cameras were installed mainly to prevent or help catch those who vandalize Coe Lake Park.
The system purchased by the city is expandable and more cameras can be installed in other areas of the park if needed. Camera feeds are taped and can be viewed live if necessary by Adams and the Berea police department.
Adams wants park visitors to know that Coe Lake Park is safe and the new cameras were installed to keep vandalism in the park from getting out of control.
“Once people feel they can get away with something, they’re willing to try something more risky and we don’t want it to accelerate or advance into criminal activity.”
There are currently no signs in the park that inform visitors that they are being videotaped. Adams said they didn’t want to use plain street signs and special signs designed to be more appropriate for a park setting will be installed soon.
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