by Victor Lopez
ODESSA--City parks are designed and built for people to enjoy. But as was the case with Prairie Dog Pete in Odessa, some are getting a different type of enjoyment out of them.
A passionate Director of Parks and Recreation, Steve Patton, says, "The parks belong to the people. Parks are for people. And that's everybody. It's horrible to see the amount of graffiti and mischief that happens in the park system."
This isn't the first time Prairie Dog Pete has been the target of vandalism. Patton says the statue has been on their repair list for years. If the vandalism continues, it could have dangerously sad consequences, "It's almost a historical landmark and it was built in the early 50's. Now it's getting to the point that it's almost beyond repair. It's sad to see that type of vandalism happen."
Other parks in Odessa have been hit too, including Memorial Gardens and Central Park, everything from simple graffiti to destruction of the park itself. Patton gave some examples, "We had all 52 light poles with marker graffiti obscenities written on them. The flower baskets that we had on the bridges, those have been undone and tossed in, pushed into the lake. At Central Park, we had 10 holes, with a sledge hammer, beat into the sides of the concrete block on a new 100 something thousand dollar restroom building."
Patton says goes on to say these incidents are totally unnecessary and illegal, "That is criminal mischief. There is no reason why that should be occurring, other than just being mean and mischief in the park system."
But the cost of all this vandalism is more than just monetary, "It's a terrible reflection on the park itself as we try to do something that's beautiful, beautified, and it takes a lot effort, a lot of work on our part. Then to have it destroyed like that is not only costly, but it hurts whenever we have a lot of pride in the projects that we do."
Even so, Patton says these violent acts won't stop him from bringing more new and exciting amenities to the parks in the City of Odessa, "Why should all of us have to pay for a few bad apples or a few bad things that happen? What I'm hoping is that it will be so nice that people will have enough pride that they will try to protect it."