Grand Island dealing with vandalism at Nike Base Park
The town of Grand Island started the year off with a mess at its Nike Base Park. YNN's Kaitlyn Lionti tells us, officials are still dealing with damage from vandalism at the site as investigators work to find who's responsible.
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GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. -- More than two weeks into 2013, traces of orange spray paint remains at Grand Island's Nike Base Park.
Workers discovered extensive vandalism on New Year's Eve.
"The place had been broken into, there was graffiti all over the exterior, they found more in the interior, as the investigation unfolded, realized three buildings had been broken into," said Mary Cooke, Grand Island's Town Supervisor.
"I was absolutely shocked. And then it was even more painful when I found out that it was our paint that was used, said Linda Tufillaro, Grand Island's Parks and Recreation Director.
Town officials say what makes it worse is the park houses the Grand Island Golden Age Center - a treasured gathering place for seniors.
Its building was spray painted along with its bus, which is used to bring people to the center and take them on trips.
Cooke said, "It's a well-known attribute for our community, it's a very proud thing that we have."
The vandals not only spray painted the outside of the Golden Age Center's bus, they also hit the inside. Unfortunately, interior panels are made of fabric, and can't be scrubbed clean.
"It's still a mess. It's useful, but a seat is burned, so the cushion has to be put over that. There's nasty words all over the interior of the bus," said Cooke.
A couple of the center's trips had to be canceled and the bus hasn't been used since.
The town is working with insurance claim experts, but say even if the thousands of dollars in damage is covered, they've already paid a price.
"Inordinate amounts of staff time, therefore, taxpayer dollars went into cleaning this mess up, filing tax claims, it's just a senseless way to spend our tax money," said Cooke.
The Erie County Sheriff's Office is investigating. Cooke said,"They have some suspects in mind, now would be a great time if the perpetrators of this crime would want to step forward."
Tufillaro says she hopes to have the center's bus back on the road in a week or so.
"I don't want to have that constant reminder to them, let them feel they're safe again in their bus, and we can continue on and move forward from here," she said.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the detective handling the case at 716-858-2903.