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Hope Mills’ new splash pad vandalized again, Board of Commissioners told


HOPE MILLS — Vandalism at the town’s new splash pad will cost thousands of dollars to repair, the town board was told Monday night.

Interim Town Manager Chancer McLaughlin told the Board of Commissioners that the splash, which is still under construction, is closed to the public.

McLaughlin said the vandalism will delay the opening of the splash pad to late spring or early summer.

“This is why we can’t have nice things,” said Commissioner Joanne Scarola.

On March 27, the Parks and Recreation Department posted on its Facebook page an update to parents and guardians that the playground and splash pad are still under construction. “The equipment, in its current state, is not secure for public use and is unsafe,” the post said.

McLaughlin told CityView the construction site had been vandalized at least twice previously.

McLaughlin said the main message is, “Somebody’s gonna get hurt.”

McLaughlin said the playground is not yet secure and parents have let their small children inside the construction area. Children have been seen climbing on the playground’s obstacles, he said.

McLaughlin said that after the first signs of vandalism, town employees put up a tall temporary fence but that vandals jumped the fence.

“Because of what happened today, we are going to have to put a permanent 6-foot fence around it and put an officer on guard,” said McLaughlin.

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Police Chief Stephen Dollinger told the council that because officers are needed elsewhere, it will stretch the force to add one to monitor the playground.

“The officer might need to leave on a more important call,” Dollinger said.

Asked if he suspects a particular group is vandalizing the site, McLaughlin said it has been “just a free-for-all.”

Parks and Recreation employees have put security cameras in place and recorded a large number of people using the playground. Many would stare into the camera as if in defiance of the rules, said one staff member.

Chief Dollinger told the board the Police Department plans to use face-recognition technology and real-time footage so that officers can respond quickly.

“This is an option for not putting an officer permanently in place,” Dollinger told the board. “Instead of Parks and Recreation reviewing the footage, the live feed will go straight to the Hope Mills Police Department in real time.”

Commissioners expressed support for the enforcement efforts.

“Prosecute them to the full extent of the law,” said Commissioner Grilley Mitchell.

In other action Monday, the board unanimously approved the annexation of 8.33 acres tied to five parcels owned by Bridgeport Homes. The property at Rockfish and Hunting Ridge roads will be rezoned to R5 single-family residential.

Also, the board was told that opening day for recreation baseball will be celebrated April 22, the first time the ceremony will be held after the baseball season has begun. Coaches, players and teams will be recognized in a ceremony that has been a Hope Mills tradition for close to 50 years.

Commissioner Jerry Legge praised the town’s parks and recreation staff for planning the opening day despite conflicts with holidays, spring break and Easter.

Legge said that because of an outcry from residents, the town found a way to make it work.

Hope Mills, splash pad, Board of Commissioners, vandalism