Vandalism is changing how we access park amenities

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Throughout Pearl River County, there are a number of parks that the public can attend.

But if you do, be sure to turn a blind eye to vandalism. Because, while these parks are certainly beautiful, graffiti, damage and all out destruction can be found at each. Take the walking track in McNeill for example. It features a scenic walking track complete with covered bridges, lots of trees for shade and even bathrooms. Just don’t plan on using the bathrooms while you’re there, because they are locked tight. Some may wonder why anyone would bother installing bathrooms at a park and then keep them locked.

Well, if you take a closer look at the doors to those bathrooms, it’s evident that someone tried to use a pry bar to gain access to the padlocked bathroom.

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There’s even evidence of vandalism on the bridges. Across beams in the roof of at least one of the bridges are names, scrawled in various hues of spray paint.

In Picayune, the similar scenes can be found at various locations. Bathrooms are locked at Jack Read Park, spray paint can be found in various areas of Friendship Park and damage of some sort can be found at any other public facility within town. So it’s no wonder that when Crosby Commons was built, electronic locks were installed on the bathrooms. What that means is the bathrooms are technically open 24/7, but with restricted access via keyfob.

Again, why would a city install bathrooms at a public park, but make access to them exclusive? The simple answer is to protect the city’s investment from vandalism.

While $25 may be a bit steep to gain annual access to the bathrooms via a keyfob, the idea is quite ingenious. By employing keyfobs to access the facility, the city also has a record of who used the bathrooms, just in case damage does occur. That provides the city with recourse, should vandalism occur.

So, if you can’t deter vandalism, restrict access to the facilities.