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Vandalism in Muncy Lions Park costing thousands of dollars

By Staff | May 29, 2013

James Craddock, President of the Muncy Lions Club points to graffiti written on a children's slide at the Muncy Lions Park across from the Cemetery. Vandalism has been getting much worse over the last four to five years and the organization will be putting up "No trespassing" signs from dusk to dawn.

MUNCY – The Muncy Lions held their annual Memorial Day fundraiser, a BBQ dinner that many always enjoy after the Memorial Day ceremony and parade. However, this year they have some major concerns. Over the last four to five years the recreational park across from the cemetery not far from the public pool, has been greatly vandalized according to Treasurer, Ray Confer. “This is costing us a lot of money,” he said.

President Jim Craddock reported that once or twice a week the members check on the park, once well known as Fry’s Park, but most of the vandalism has been occurring at night. He pointed to graffiti spray painted on the children’s slide. “It is hard to get off,” he said. “We suspect it is a specific group, and we’re sure it might be local,” said Craddock. “Chief Sutton chased kids out. We’re not sure yet, but suspect high school students might be doing this.” Craddock and Confer explained that Chief Sutton is aware of the problem and suggested that signs be put up that say “Off Limits Dusk to Dawn”.

Since the property is located in Muncy Creek Township, then the State Police will need to be contacted concerning any violations. Chief Sutton can also be contacted and make an arrest. Neighbors are encouraged to report any suspects or use of the park after hours. Signs have been ordered and will be up soon according to the club. Its remoteness contributes to the problem. The signs will also say that trespassers will be prosecuted.

An accessible swing for special needs children made at Play World in Lewisburg had to be replaced. “This was a $700 replacement cost,” said Confer. “It was destroyed last year.” With a grant in 2002, the Muncy Lions Club had purchased $30,000 worth of playground equipment and had it installed at the park. “This also included the mulch,” Confer added. “And now it’s being vandalized. Even picnic tables are being pulled out of the pavilion,” they said. Craddock pointed to some blue spray paint that marked up the cement foundation for the picnic tables. Now the picnic tables are chained together. The portable toilet which costs $500 a year, also had to be chained. The men reported that one day last summer mud and dog feces were thrown across the shed door.

The Lions would like help from neighbors and those driving by to look down into the park and report anything suspicious. “Engage the youth in conversation to let them know they are being watched,” requested Craddock. “Often they are respectful, but some not.”

It is also important for the community to know that this is not a public park. “It is private property maintained only by the Lions,” Craddock explained. “This is owned by the Lions since 1991, and before that the Jaycees.” The park is their biggest expense. Seventeen active, volunteer members maintain 3.4 acres, plus equipment and mowing the lawn. They are seeking cooperation from the community to report any problems, and to help enforce the “no trespassing” after hours.

The damage has gotten more intense over the years. “It is no longer just engraving your girlfriend’s initials into the woodwork. Now it has gone to damaging property.” The men also pointed to young trees that were planted along the stream banks since the 2011 flood to help control erosion and flood damage. Many of the tree tops were bare and some pulled from their root system. The BBQ pit was destroyed and had to be rebuilt this spring. “Cinder blocks were tossed everywhere, all over the place. We are getting it ready now for the season,” said Confer. He also said that surveillance cameras were a possibility, but this adds another expense to maintain the park.

The Lions want to keep the park nice and available for public use. There are three entrances to the park, and it is available for rent to groups and organizations with any donation. Often it is used for picnics, reunions, weddings and events from local churches. “The park is older than I am,” lauded Confer. “The community has been very generous,” added Craddock.

The Muncy Lions meet the second and fourth Thursday of every month at 6 p.m., and during the summer months, they meet at the park.