WESTFIELD – After vandals ransacked gazebos and property throughout Stanley Park, the Park is stepping up its security and rebuilding with support from residents in Westfield and the surrounding communities.
Bob McKean, Stanley Park’s director, explained that the perpetrators caused at least $12,000 dollars in damages throughout the park. He said, “Our gazebos were damaged heavily, we had our AED (automatic electronic defibrillator) box damaged, some of our electrical boxes and panels were just torn to bits. There was just major damage everywhere. Wherever this person could have caused some damages, they did.”
In addition to damage to property, McKean explained fires were lit throughout the Park. “The fires went further than anything we want down there because if the wind caught it would have been everywhere,” he said.
While there will be a high cost for the repairs, he said that the community has felt like a family during this trying time. “The support we’ve received make us know that we are a family. They feel very concerned about this, it’s like somebody did it to their backyards. We’re fortunate to have people like that.”
He added that places like Skips Outdoor Accents and other members of the community have been reaching out to lend a helping hand to repair some of the damages. “I can’t believe the numbers of phone calls I’ve been getting from different groups even if we just needed some hand labor they’d be in,” he said.
McKean said the park will be increasing its security, especially with the use of more cameras as a result of the vandalism. He said, “We’re in the process of putting in many, many more cameras around the park for safety. More high-vision cameras, more motion cameras, and everything else we possibly can. Of course, it’s expensive and that’s hard for us as a private non-profit.”
He added that the Park Rangers will always keep a closer eye to prevent this type of thing from happening again.
McKean commended the police on their work so far in tracking down the perpetrators, “The police, the department, the detectives, everybody, including the city, have been excellent. The detectives I can’t say enough about that and the police that cover us in their normal operation have just been outstanding,” he said.
He added that the park is encouraging people to report any suspicious activity. “If you are walking the park and see something, say something. If it’s something normal, we’ll be able to tell them that,” he said.
On a Facebook post on May 16, Stanley Park announced that one arrest had been made and the person was being held for all of the damages. They also thanked the Westfield Police Department and Detectives Anthony Tsatsos and Brian Freeman for their service investigating the crime.
The Westfield Police Department did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.