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Curfew proposed for Harrison, Ark. parks after vandalism at Wonder Willa Park

Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 5:40 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 6, 2022 at 5:43 PM CST
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - Harrison Parks and Recreation board leaders have proposed a curfew for all city parks, including one where vandalism has been an ongoing problem.

The new proposal calls a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. at city parks. Violators spotted at the park during those hours will be asked to leave. If they refuse, they could be subject to a fine or even arrested.

Vandalism has escalated at Wonder Willa Park in the last six months after the park opened new public restrooms.

Parks Director Chuck Eddington brought the proposal to the city council meeting Tuesday with hopes it will deter any further acts. Cameras have recently been installed in the park and led to several prosecutions.

Last month, there was a span of four separate vandalism in 10 days. Dispensers have been torn off the walls, partisans destroyed, and the restrooms have been teepeed. The parks department is also looking to make some changes to the restrooms, by making the dividers cement block.

“We built the Wonder Willa Park, that ran to nearly $400,000 and we knew we’d need bathrooms on this side with all the walkers. These have only been open about six months,” said Mayor Jerry Jackson, who has worked closely with the parks department and law enforcement to address the issue.

Along with the park, the new bathrooms are also estimated around $60,000.

”I mean they’re not benefiting from it, it’s just more fun than anything,” said Jerry Farmer with Harrison Parks and Recreation. “They’re not taking anything, they’re just destroying things. It’s really just a bunch of senseless crime.”

Across the last six months, vandals have caused several thousands of dollars in damages. During one incident, an animal was mutilated.

”The goose, we caught him that same night thanks to the cameras, which had just been installed at the time, that was in July.” said Jackson.

Despite security cameras leading to multiple prosecutions, it hasn’t deterred the acts. More cameras are expected to be installed at Wonder Willa Park.

”I know the public, they’re getting a little disgusted because we put the signs up,” said Farmer. “But they have to help us and be our eyes so we can put a stop to this.”

”If that’s what we have to do to control crime and cut down on vandalism, that’s what we’re going to do,” said Jackson.

The proposal is scheduled to be brought before the next city council meeting on Jan. 13. If approved, the curfew would apply to all city parks.

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