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Mayor: vandalism is a growing problem for Waddington

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WADDINGTON — The village’s mayor says the desecration of the Virgin Mary statue earlier this month at St. Mary’s Church, 34 Oak St., is not an isolated event.

Janet M. Otto-Cassada says vandalism is becoming more common in the village.

Over the last several years, she said, the destruction of park benches, damage to picnic tables and removal of signs from docks on the St. Lawrence River have disturbed an otherwise quaint village.

“Most recently, the Donald M. Martin Civic Center’s door and window was broken,” Ms. Otto-Cassada said. “That had to be repaired. We needed new signs and new benches and secure what have you down. Our picnic tables are now made of steel and are indestructible.”

She said that in some cases, parents aren’t doing much to stop destruction of public property.

“We had to lock that handicap swing and give the keys to the homes, so that young people would stay out of it even when their own parents were down there watching them,” she said. “Now, that is sad.”

While the total cost of the damage to village property is unknown, Christopher F. Reagan of the Department of Public Works said the destruction is no doubt costly to village residents.

“We’ve had restrooms continually destroyed,” he said. “We find the dispensers ripped off the walls and the rooms generally trashed. We also had instances with people spinning their tires in the parks. We had to put the topsoil back in and reseed everything. It takes time from other work that we could be doing. It is also costing the taxpayers.”

Mr. Reagan said vandalism usually occurs in sprees.

“You can tell when school is out,” he said. “But it’s not just kids; adults are guilty, too.”

Mr. Reagan said he believes a lack of activity for teenagers could be one cause of the increase acts in vandalism.

“I think we don’t have anything for kids ages 15 to 18 to do,” he said. “We have a summer recreation program for younger kids, but the older kids don’t have anywhere to go.”

Mr. Reagan said he has worked with several members of the Recreation Committee to try to come up with ideas catering to teens, such as building a skate park, but the idea hasn’t had much traction.

“It would be great if we had a rec center or a place for them to hang out. I grew up here with a youth center, and it has since closed down,” Mr. Reagan said.

“Temptation arises when there is nothing to do. It would be great if we had a place with video games and somewhere for them to hang out. I think it would be great thing.”

Vandalism also is occurring on private property.

“I don’t think any community is immune from this kind of vandalism, but it seems to be getting worse as opposed to better in the last few years,” Ms. Otto-Cassada said.

She said she urges the public to report acts of vandalism.

“It’s very difficult to combat this sort of problem,” she said.

“You don’t want to turn the village into a police state; that is not how anyone wants to live. You can also put as many patrols out as you like, but it’s up to the parents and us as a community to handle this situation,” she said.

“Residents might know things that they might not want to say. Maybe it’s time that they did.”

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