Recent vandalism in Bingham Park took up most of the June 26th Hawley Parks & Recreation Commission.

HAWLEY - Recent vandalism in Bingham Park took up most of the June 26th Hawley Parks & Recreation Commission.

Hawley Police Chief Daniel Drake and Lt. Raymond Paquette joined the discussion.

Acts of mischief at the park are part of an active, ongoing investigation, Chief Drake said, without releasing specifics that were available for the press.

In addition to damage done to picnic tables at the bandstand, discovered Friday morning, June 22, police are also checking a discovery of mischief at the public restrooms in the park.
The restrooms will need to be thoroughly cleaned and some repairs done. Meanwhile, Council President Ann Monaghan recommended that the restrooms be closed until the opening of the carnival on July 3rd.

Although a rented, portable toilet was suggested, Monaghan replied, “There’s no law saying that we have to have a bathroom over there.”

She suggested that having the restrooms closed may inconvenience the public, but may prompt someone who knows something about the incident to step forward and report what they know to the police.

Chief Drake urged that borough officials and staff check the restrooms at various times and jot down on a log sheet, the times the restrooms were checked and the condition seen. Drake said that this way, the police can better track incidents and coupled with the surveillance cameras, better narrow down possible suspects.

“What we need to do is to have someone periodically check and keep a log,” he said. Lt. Paquette checked the restrooms at about 11 p.m. Saturday night and they were fine at that time.

Parks & Rec agreed to this request. A log will be kept at the Borough Hall.

Rodger Smythe, road master, said that the crew checks them each morning at 7 a.m.
The restroom locks work automatically. They are currently set to open at 7 a.m. and close at 9 p.m.

Mayor Kevin Hawk commented, “It is good for people to see police checking doors… just like in Main Street.”

“I would hope that if someone saw some damage they would at least report it to somebody,” Monaghan said. “We need to come up with a solution, because the borough is spending man hours, Rodger’s time, police time, material time. We have all this time and money being put into it and all that is happening is a cycle. Fix it, and it starts all over again.”

A fence at Riverside Park was also knocked or pulled down. This area is going to be the contractor’s staging area for the flood levee repair project, to start soon. Council member Michele Rojas will be investigating if the grant received for the project can also fund security guards to watch over the staging area at night.

A curfew is included in Hawley’s ordinances, but the problem is one of enforcement, it was said.

“We are getting hammered with calls,” Drake said, including complaints about thefts from vehicles. He reminded that the public needs to keep their vehicles locked.

Parks & Rec member Dick Briden asked whether offering a reward would help. After discussion, the mayor suggested that tactic may be useful in the future.

“They may be only two or three culprits, but I bet there are a lot of people who know who those culprits are,” Briden said. Chief Drake said that the police look at the various incidents together and who knows who, in the process of investigation.

Anyone with information about incidents of vandalism or other crimes, is asked to contact the Hawley Borough Police at 570-226-4868.

Also discussed:

Chairman P.J. Dougherty reported that a couple pieces of the CJR Memorial playground are in need of repair.A $1,500 quote was received to repair a piece of loose footing under a “sled” that kids get in and it moves back and forth. When kids in, the footing slides and is ripping the rubber mat. In addition, a plastic “mountain” that kids climb, has a crack.

It was not clear whether this was normal wear and tear, or the equipment being vandalized or used too roughly by older kids.

Dougherty said he will see if the equipment is still under warranty. Dougherty, who is in the construction trade, said he lacked the specialized tools to fix it in-house.

“The liability of not fixing it would be worse than paying the expense of it,” Monaghan said.

Having the funds to maintain the playground as time goes on, was briefly discussed. Monaghan said that under the Bingham Park revitalization plan, there has been discussion of making this a “county park.” She said that if that is the case, the county should help contributed financially for its upkeep.

Hawley Parks & Recreation meets on the last Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. at Borough Hall.