By Ed Harris
A Southington Town Councilor is looking to create a taskforce that would be charged with brainstorming ideas to deal with vandalism in town, after an ice rink was vandalized for the second time in as many weeks.
Councilor Dawn Miceli would like the taskforce to include people from all walks of life in town. She said the taskforce would be asked to look at various ideas to combat the vandalism issue in town, which could include a reward system, neighborhood watch or mobile surveillance cameras.
“We’ve had ongoing vandalism going on,” Miceli said in regards to the issues at the rink. “It’s been more and more prevalent. We need more eyes on this.”
The most recent string of vandalism occurred at the ice rink on the Water Department property on Mill Street. Miceli and Water Commissioner Michael Domian helped make the ice rink a reality three years ago.
Due to warmer than normal winter weather over the last few years, this year was really the first year that the public could utilize the rink for a prolonged amount of time.
About three weeks ago vandals hit the rink, ripping off Styrofoam covers and parts of panels, throwing sandbags and trashcans out onto the ice and stealing a nearby park bench. Miceli estimated the damage to cost about $400.
The rink was hit again about two weeks ago, with much the same damage being done.
Parks Supervisor Mike Manware said it took his department an average of four hours, each time, to clean up the mess left behind by the vandals. Manware added that a leak was detected after the second round of vandalism, though he did not specifically blame it on the vandals.
“It’s unfortunate,” Manware said of the vandalism. “It’s a shame.”
Beyond the vandalism at the ice rink, Miceli added that there were instances of vandalism at the drive-in and along the Rails to Trails corridor, mainly involving building graffiti.
Town Manager Garry Brumback said he was open to looking at all options to combat the vandalism, including Miceli’s proposal. Brumback singled out the destruction at the ice rink, calling it “disturbing” and adding that it had gone past vandalism and into theft with the stealing of the two park benches.
“This is beyond vandalism,” he said. “We’re taking this very seriously. This is not your garden variety vandalism.”
Police have stepped up patrols in the area and are looking at other avenues to apprehend the vandals. Southington Police Lt. Mike Baribault could not go into specifics, but he did note that detectives were looking into the matter and that the department had checked with area scrap yards to see if someone had tried to sell the two stolen benches.
Baribault also asked for the public’s help.
“Help from the public is always key,” he said.