Vandalism and litter at Ocala parks becomes daily challenge for employees

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 5:26 PM EST
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - It’s costing taxpayers thousands of dollars a year.

Vandalism at parks in Ocala is something officials said they’re having to deal with way too often.

Back in April, a set of murals depicting black and cuban history, were installed at Scott Springs Park after they were destroyed by vandals.

“We had somebody who actually took an axe to an art mural,” Ocala Parks Division Head, Bill Rodriguez said.

They seem to remain untouched, but Rodriguez said other forms of vandalism are still happening.

RELATED: Ocala’s history on display, where to learn about Black and Cuban culture

“For the most part we’re dealing with it on a monthly basis. A lot of graffiti, a lot of broken or damaged objects,” he said.

It costs taxpayers roughly $5,000 dollars a year to fix the damage.

Another big issue officials said they’re having to deal with is litter.

“I mean all of it is disgusting. As far as the littering, you have children who picks that stuff up or have to walk through it. The parks that I go to I don’t see too much of it but there are parks that I have ran across that needs maintenance and cleaning,” Ocala resident Debbie Meeks said.

Rodriguez said they try to clean and replace defaced areas in 24 hours once they become aware of a problem.

“Our staff works very hard coming in at 6 in the morning and the first thing they’re doing is hitting the parks and cleaning up those things that they found from over night. Picking up the trash is right up there with removing graffiti within 24 hours,” he said.

Officials said a majority of incidents are done by young people.

Depending on the situation, he said they work with the teen to fix the issue.

Having them involved in community service instead of with law enforcement.

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