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'Don't do it again': City of Laurel to install surveillance cameras following playground vandalism

A spot of the playground targeted after being cleaned up
Posted at 3:17 PM, May 28, 2024

LAUREL — The city of Laurel is having to make a difficult decision following vandals targeting the town’s new playground last Tuesday.

Below is a photo of some of the graffiti found at the Russell Park playground that now has the city looking into park surveillance cameras:

Some of the graffiti found at Russell Park
Some of the graffiti found at Russell Park

The playground has only been open for less than a year.

"Yes, we can clean it up, but it takes away from our day-to-day and stuff we'd rather be doing," said Matt Wheeler, the public works director for the city of Laurel, on Tuesday. "Rather than cleaning up messes."

Matt Wheeler
Matt Wheeler

Wheeler has been busy cleaning up.

"I don't know if there's a point to it," Wheeler said. "Which there may be, but we don't appreciate it."

Russell Park is a new playground located at 100-168 S. Fifth St. in Laurel.

"There's a lot of implications that trickle down,” Wheeler said.

The graffiti was cleaned up Wednesday, but Wheeler said the problem goes far beyond the paint.

Russell Park playground post clean-up
Russell Park playground post clean-up

Cleanup requires time and money—paying for repairs and city workers' wages.

Now the city is looking at installing surveillance cameras at the park to hopefully curb other vandals.

"Probably within the next couple of months," Wheeler said.

Russell Park playground
Russell Park playground

Wheeler had a simple message for those turning to target the town:

"Please don't do it again," Wheeler said.

The recent act of vandalism left lifelong Laurel residents like Darla Williams worried for the future.

"It makes me sad," Williams said on Tuesday.

Darla Williams
Darla Williams

When Williams thinks back to her childhood, this is what she remembers most:

"We were never bored. It was just, go outside and play,” Williams said.

Summers full of adventure in the great outdoors.

"Living at the park, living at the pool. There was always so much for us to do as kids,” said Williams.

Old pool sign before the splash pad remodel
Old pool sign before the splash pad remodel

But nowadays she fears there aren’t enough activities for kids to enjoy.

"There's just nothing for them to do. Everything's gone for them," said Williams. "They need something to do besides mischief."

And with boredom comes trouble.

Williams just wants to see the city she loves to stay that way.

"It's just a very nice small town that I love," Williams said. "If you see something, say something. Keep watch for our neighbors and keep our hometown growing strong."

A spot of the playground targeted after being cleaned up
A spot of the playground targeted after being cleaned up

To learn more about the graffiti found at Russell Park, click here.