Sussex Borough is going to look into the vandalism issues at Brookside Park after a Sussex-Wantage Little League official addressed the Borough Council about it on September 6.
League secretary Ben Cerutti said the concession stand countertops were smashed and another had a picture of a “male body part burned into it with a cigarette lighter.” He said the entire concession stand was covered in graffiti, ranging from profanity to tags. He said one of the bathrooms had a “homophobic statement” sprayed on the sidewalk.
The park is located in Wantage Township, but Sussex Borough owns the property.
“I think it’s shameful that hundreds of kids have walked by and read this over the past two months on their way to the bathroom at sports practice,” Cerutti said.
He filed an initial police report but said nothing was done for five weeks.
The problem was partially addressed, but the countertop remained smashed.
“I appreciate that there’s no longer a picture of a male body part, but it still looks pretty lousy for the kids that are down there,” Cerutti said. “The dugouts were painted over with a different color paint so that the words are no longer visible, but the kids know they’re sitting in graffiti.”
He also said the homophobic statement is still there.
Cerutti asked the borough to finish cleaning the graffiti and return the park to the state it was in before vandalization.
He also asked for cameras to be installed at the park.
Borough administrator Antoinette Smith said she could find out how much cameras would cost but questioned who would monitor them. There was also concern that the cameras would be broken.
“This is a problem that’s been going on for years,” Councilman Charles Fronheiser said. “We bought the conditioner for the ball field. We spent a lot of money and baseball let that sit out down there, and the kids went down and ripped the bags and baseball didn’t do anything about it and didn’t complain about that either.”
Another option was to close Brookside Park unless it was for a permitted use.
Holowach said when he grew up in Sparta, there were fields in the middle of town where he played, and you could only play there when allowed.
“You couldn’t go down there and play a pick-up game,” Holowach said. “But that’s what it was, and it allowed them to deal with that.”
Holowach said in the meantime, he’d be happy to donate some time to paint if that’s necessary.
“Thank you for bringing this to our attention,” Borough Mayor Edward Meyer said. “We’re going to take care of it.”