Vandals hit county sports facilities

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 22, 2004

Clear Creek golf pro Randy Tupper shows damage in a restrooms of the Bovina Soccer Complex Wednesday following a rampage of vandalism.(Brian Loden The Vicksburg Post)

[7/22/04]Vandals destroyed windows, fixtures and electric hand-dryers in restrooms at the county’s golf and soccer complexes and a lakeside pavilion in Bovina, and officials say the cost of repairs could be as much as $18,000.

The damage was discovered Wednesday in three restroom buildings, all within about a half-mile of each other on or near Clear Creek Golf Club off Tiffentown Road in eastern Warren County.

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The separate restroom buildings are for users of eight of the 12 soccer fields at Bovina, users of a lakeside picnic pavilion and golfers finishing the 14th hole of the course’s 18.

“The fixtures were all commercial,” Clear Creek golf pro Randy Tupper said of the five toilets, four sinks, four mirrors, two hand-dryers and two soap-dispensers that were destroyed in the soccer-building restrooms. “They cost $10,000 in 1997” when the facility was built, he said. The restrooms are for eight of the 12 soccer fields at Bovina.

Tupper said he was made aware of the vandalism at the soccer complex and at the picnic pavilion Wednesday, but it may have occurred earlier.

The golf-course restrooms were damaged late Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

“I used it yesterday afternoon and it was fine,” said Vicksburg golfer Jack Farren, who was passing the bathroom as he played the back nine of the 18-hole course Wednesday morning.

The front nine is closed for reconstruction and modification of its greens and surrounding areas.

Initial estimates of the damage to both buildings placed it at about $15,000 to $18,000, Tupper said.

About 800 players in the Vicksburg Soccer Organization use the Bovina soccer fields, Tupper said. Their seasons run from August until November and March until May, and the fields are used sporadically in the off-season, he said.

The pavilion is rented and is generally used on weekends and holidays for such activities as family reunions, Tupper said.

All three facilities are administered by the Warren County Parks and Recreation Commission.

The soccer-field and pavilion restrooms are normally left locked, Tupper said. Vandals had apparently been able to enter the soccer-field restrooms, however, without damaging the deadbolt locks on the restrooms’ outside doors.

The golf-course bathrooms, on the other hand, are normally left unlocked and were not locked when the damage occurred, he said.

“They’re not locked because of the window access,” Tupper said. “If someone wants in,” access other than through the doors can easily be gained, he said.

Plexiglas had recently been installed in the golf-course building’s window openings to keep heat in during cold weather, Tupper said. Some of the plastic glass panels were broken.

“We’re offering a $500 reward for an arrest and conviction,” Tupper said.

All three restroom buildings were accessible by foot. No vehicle tracks were found around the golf-course restroom building, which is about 500 yards from the clubhouse parking lot, the nearest vehicle-access point.

A portable toilet had been rented as a substitute for the golfers who continued to play the back nine Wednesday. Tupper said he did not know how long the damage would take to repair.

A state malicious-mischief statute that took effect last year provides for a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine plus restitution for damages or destruction valued at more than $500.

“This is something we take very seriously,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said. “This is not a childish prank. It involves taxpayers’ money and it affects the operation of that county facility. It is being investigated as a criminal act.”

Tupper said the latest estimate of the cost of the work being done on the front nine is about $326,000.