WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The City of Wichita said that every time it has to make repairs from vandalism, it has to use money that was supposed to go to other projects. It is becoming a more significant concern because of the increase in destruction at city parks.

Thursday morning, Troy Houtman, Wichita Parks and Recreation director, said the costs are adding up.

For example, someone damaged a control panel at a Aley Park. Part of the panel was knocked off the wall. Houtman said they will have to pay $5,000 to replace it.

Vandals also broke into the building at the swimming pool in the Park. They trashed the inside of the place and left behind a big mess.

“We work really hard to make these amenities available for all of our kids across the city and all of our citizens, and when this happens, it’s really disheartening,” Houtman said. “We have to clean it up, replace it, and other items get put on hold.”

“Enjoy parks, not destroy them.”

Troy Houtman, Wichita Parks and Recreation director

He said a playground inspector goes out every month to check the city’s playgrounds. Unfortunately, the inspector found someone had taken a blowtorch to the one at Emery Park. As a result, there is damage to the matting under the sand, a platform children stand on, and a slide.

Houtman said the Emery Memorial Park damage cost is another $5,000, plus it will be some time before the city can get replacement parts. The city is dealing with the same supply chain issues as the rest of the country.

He said the vandalism also makes playgrounds unsafe, and the city has to close them until repairs are made.

“When that happens, it looks like a really big eyesore because it’s just really not usable,” Houtman said.

The City of Wichita is working with Crime Stoppers of Wichita and Sedgwick County to catch the people responsible. If you see graffiti or something more serious being done to a park, call 911 if it is still in progress. If it has already happened, let the police and Wichita Parks and Recreation know.

Houtman said there is a silver lining to one of the cases. The Wichita Community Foundation saw the story about the damage at Emery Park and has offered to pay for half of the repair to the slide.

“Everybody should have that spirit,” he said. “Everybody should really be looking for ways to take care of our parks.”

KSN asked the city for more specifics on what projects have been put on hold. A city spokesperson said Houtman is referring to maintenance and upgrades.

“When money is used for repairs, we can’t use it later for improvements,” Megan Lovely, Wichita communications manager, said.

Mayor Brandon Whipple said the vandals might have a misunderstanding of the city’s resources.

“We don’t have infinite money,” he said. “We definitely want to keep our parks safe, not cutting other areas.”

The City of Wichita sent us the extensive list of damage:

Emery Park – Someone used a blow torch on a playground slide, platform and matting under the sand

Watson Park

  • Train barn broken into
  • Air lines broken
  • 11 boards kicked out of barn
  • Strand of lights stolen
  • 11 decorations stolen or destroyed
  • Extension cord stolen
  • Power strip stolen
  • Fire extinguisher discharged in men’s restroom

Aley Pool

  • Two office windows broken
  • Women’s restroom door kicked
  • Fire extinguisher discharged in women’s restroom
  • Power strip stolen
  • Damage to front counter
  • Fence line damaged

Minisa Pool

  • Three picnic tables dropped into deep end
  • Two of the tables are damaged and will need replaced
  • Dropping of the tables damaged the pool basin and will need to be repaired
  • Fence cut and fasteners removed

Linwood Splash Pad

  • Graffiti to the front roll top door
  • Graffiti on the splash pad floor

Orchard Pool

  • Graffiti to the chemical door
  • Concession door damaged

Crime Stoppers is offering cash rewards for tips that lead to an arrest. If you saw something or know anything, please call 316-267-2111. Information can also be submitted online at www.stopcrime316.com.