Community center trashed by vandals - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Community center trashed by vandals

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October 4, 2002

Albany-- It may mean the end for the community center. Dozens of city workers have been cleaning up all day, and will likely have to work through the weekend.

This is the fourth time the Center has been damaged this year, and the frequent vandalism is forcing the Albany Recreation and Parks Department to make some difficult decisions about the future of the community center.

Albany Parks workers crank up their equipment and begin on clean up efforts at the Thornton Community Center. Vandals broke in during the wee hours of the morning through a cargo entrance and damaged everything inside.

Once inside the vandals shattered the glass to the office window, overturned all the desks, and smashed the computer and TV.

But they didn't stop there. They also went after the gameroom popular with children as a safe after school play area. "Couldn't believe anyone come in and do such damage when recently purchased new equipment," said Recreation Supervisor Mildred Green.

An air hockey table in pieces, three pool tables overturned, pool balls and baseballs litter the gym floor. And perhaps worst, the gym's air and heating unit destroyed, and the center under water. "They left the water on to flood the place," Green said.

Only one room was spared at the Thornton Community Center, with hundreds of very valuable and very breakable ceramics. Apparently they couldn't break the lock to the senior citizen class projects.

Now after the fourth break in this year, each one successively worse, what can the center do to stop them? "Hope kids keep coming, we're not going to let this shut us down," Green said.

But it will take quite sometime for the center to try to come up with the money to replace everything they lost today. And if they are able to, they say they'll once again be looking to upgrade security, perhaps with steel bars inside of all the doors.

Police say the destruction of the Community Center was likely gang related.

posted at 4:00PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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