Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Vandals disrupting tranquility of Palm Harbor park

The fishing pier at H.S. “Pop’’ Stansell Park is a favorite stop for park visitors, and unfortunately, for vandals, also.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times (2001)

The fishing pier at H.S. “Pop’’ Stansell Park is a favorite stop for park visitors, and unfortunately, for vandals, also.

PALM HARBOR — H.S. "Pop'' Stansell Park, a public park at the west end of Florida Avenue, is much loved for its fishing pier, band shell, playground and tranquil setting on the edge of St. Joseph Sound.

However, because teenage vandals are wreaking havoc throughout the 5-acre park, tranquility has given way to frustration. And the Palm Harbor Parks and Recreation Department has been forced to spend residents' tax dollars cleaning up the mess.

For the last several months, Grant McKeel, the park maintenance crew leader for Palm Harbor Parks and Recreation, has had to make repeated visits to rebuild parts of the pier ripped apart by the vandals.

"I'd say I've made six trips out there. It costs about $100 to redo the work every time,'' McKeel said.

McKeel and other maintenance workers also have been forced to monitor the picnic area for graffiti every workday.

"Every morning we come out to the park to check for (vandalism). I've seen stuff that you definitely don't want any little kids to read,'' he said.

"We've come face to face with kids holding onto paint, and they just yell at us, telling us that they haven't done anything,'' he added. "And there's been times when we apply fresh paint over the graffiti only to come in the next day to see messages like, 'You keep painting over us, and we'll keep marking it up.' ''

Parks and Recreation director Erica Lynford stressed that vandalism is nothing new. "But it has gotten progressively worse, and that is the case all around the country,'' she said.

Lynford has a solution in mind: She plans to purchase security equipment for the park in the coming year.

Last summer, at the Florida Recreation and Park Association annual conference, Lynford went to a workshop on park security and learned about a California-based company, Q-Star Technology, that created the FlashCAM-880SX.

The motion-activated system bathes trespassers in bright lights and snaps photos of them when they enter areas that are off-limits.

"It breaks my heart to have to pay for something like this,'' Lynford said. "I certainly didn't want to spend upward of $4,000 on a device to catch citizens destroying a park we maintain for their benefit.''

Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Vandals disrupting tranquility of Palm Harbor park 12/28/12 [Last modified: Friday, December 28, 2012 7:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Michael Connelly's 'Two Kinds of Truth' is Bosch at his best

    Books

    Harry Bosch's office is a long way from his former desk in the Los Angeles Police Department's elite robbery-homicide squad.

  2. Local craft beer of the week: Malt liquor? Yes — 3 Daughters Brewing's Ctrl + Malt + Del

    Bars & Spirits

    In 2004, Delaware's Dogfish Head Brewery was well into the process of making a name for itself through envelope-pushing beers, like 120-Minute IPA and World Wide Stout, brews notorious for their astronomical alcohol content.

    Photo by Justin Grant
  3. History rewrite: What if Dalvin Cook, Lamar Jackson had landed at Florida?

    College

    Two days before suiting up in the Under Armour All-America Game at Tropicana Field, Dalvin Cook announced a change of heart.

     Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) on a run in the first quarter of the game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Florida Gators at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016.
  4. He sings, he acts, he ministers -- Meet Heanon Tate

    Religion

    God gives every person unique talents to use them, says Heanon Tate, pastor of Force of Life Church in North Tampa.

    Heanon Tate, pastor of Force of Life Church in North Tampa.  Tate, 46, is a musician, actor, athlete and minister. He has appeared off Broadway and in television shows including Army Wives (in which he had a reoccurring role) and Homeland.