Vandals hit local community centers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Vandals hit local community centers

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September 17, 2006

Albany -- Two recent break-ins at city-run community centers are affecting services provided to the citizens of Albany, even causing one to close temporarily.

On Monday, September 11, police responded to a weekend burglary that happened at Ken Gardens Park.

Then the next day, another incident was reported at the Carver Pool and Community Center.

It's like the calm after a storm at Ken Gardens Sports Complex. The latest break-in here makes three, all within a three-month timespan.

Across town at the Carver Pool and Community Center staff also reported a break-in and theft to Albany police. The common ground, both centers are run by the City and funded by taxpayers.

"Unfortunately a select few decide they want to be vandals, and take things away from citizens that really really want them. This is a neighborhood community center, and some of the youth weren't real happy they didn't have the opportunity to come this week," said Parks and Recreation Department Interim Director Fran Staulter.

Several after school programs are scheduled at both complexes. Beacuse of the break-ins, the Carver Center closed its doors for a week, cleaning up after the vandals.

"They broke in the doors, broke the locks, came in and threw things all over, and it wasn't good," said Staulter.

And it's not just the fact services for community members are cut, vandalism left behind comes at the taxpayers' expense.

"That comes out of the general operating fund to repair those damages, and it just costs taxpayers dollars" said Staulter.

Interim Director Fran Staulter says the department doesn't keep valuable items inside either complex, so the bigger issue this time is the vandalism.

For now the centers will take proper precaution against burglers.

"We don't like it as a community and as a city department when a select few abuse that public space," said Staulter.

Damage at both city-run centers is done. Community leaders ask the public to help keep any future crime from happening.

Burglars broke into the back door and smashed a window at the Ken Gardens Complex. At the Carver complex, the criminals broke into the front door.

Police are still investigating the crimes and say it doesn't appear the two are related.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at 436-TIPS.

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