Vandals target Port’s Possibility Playground

Fence pickets bearing donor’s names kicked out at all-children’s play area

Vandals have kicked out fence pickets, which bear the names of donors, at Possibility Playground in Port Washington's Upper Lake Park. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

Forty-four pickets have been kicked out of the fence surrounding Possibility Playground — Port Washington’s beloved all-children’s play area in Upper Lake Park — by vandals during the past couple months, playground coordinator Danielle Bartlein said Tuesday.

Bartlein said she believes the damage was done in two separate incidents, noting the Parks and Recreation Department recovered a number of the pickets from the ground  and last week she collected another 15 to 20 of the slats.

Because the Parks and Recreation Department has already packed away the pickets it collected, it will be a while before they can conduct an inventory and see how many may be missing, Bartlein added.

“A couple of people have reached out to say those were their pickets,” she said. “We’re working with the Parks and Recreation Department to see if any were stolen.

“Hopefully they’ll all be accounted for. If there are any missing, we will work with Parks and Rec to replace them.”

“It just breaks my heart,” Bartlein said, noting people purchased the pickets to help fund the playground, often having them emblazoned with the names of family members.

And the money used to replace the pickets and other items that are vandalized could otherwise go toward new equipment and amenities at the playground, she said.

Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said the damage was done late last year and reported twice — when it occurred on Dec. 2 and again on March 7, after someone affiliated with the playground discovered it.

On Dec. 2, he said, a witness called to say juveniles had damaged the playground. When officers arrived at the park, she pointed out three children as the offenders.

Hingiss said the trio — a 12-year-old boy from Port Washington and a 12-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy from Greenfield — admitted they had done the damage and said they were sorry.

The 12-year-olds were cited for property damage, he said, but the 11-year-old was not because of his age.

Bartlein, who said she was unaware of that fact, said there was also some damage done to the surface of the playground, where a piece of the rubberized surface was torn out.

That area was already showing a great deal of wear and tear, she said, noting that they were looking at options to replace that portion of the surface with a more durable material.

Bartlein said the playground has been the target of vandals before, and because of that the playground committee and Parks and Recreation Department are working to install a security camera system there.

“It’s kind of disappointing to spend money on cameras instead of fun new equipment,” she said.


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