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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 at St. Mary’s Church last month is not an isolated event.

Vandalism is becoming more common in the village, Mayor Janet M. Otto-Cassada said.

Over the last several years, she says destroyed park benches, damaged picnic tables, and signs taken off docks and thrown in the St. Lawrence River have disturbed an otherwise quaint village.

“Most recently, the Donald M. Martin Civic Center’s door and window was broken,” Mrs. 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 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 costing 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 top soil 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 says he believes a lack of activity for teens could be one cause for 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 isn’t just occurring on public property, but private property as well.

“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,” Mrs. Otto-Cassada said.

Mrs. Otto-Cassada said she urges the public to report acts 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 hand this situation. Residents might know things that they might not want to say. Maybe it’s time that they did.”

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