By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Pickup truck drivers have bypassed rock barriers around the grassy area of the park at 1500 W. Lauridsen Blvd., to joyride, driving in circles, tearing up grass and digging deep tire ruts.
“It’s just been a consistent nightmare,” Parks and Recreation Director Corey Delikat told Port Angeles parks board members during a meeting last week.
“This year has probably been the worst,” he said.
The most recent damage was spotted in a grassy area on the east side of the park Feb. 16 by a city staff member who reported it to Port Angeles police, Delikat said.
The trucks have ripped deep ruts in some of the park’s gravel parking lots, Delikat added.
Delikat told parks board members last week he’s planning to spend about $2,800 on 80 short metal posts, or bollards, to be placed around an unused concrete pad on the east side of the park in between two gravel parking lots.
Delikat said the intent is to make the pad a new parking area, with bollards preventing trucks from accessing both the nearby gravelled areas and the lawns.
“[This work is] definitely on our list [that] we want to do this year,” Delikat said.
“We can’t afford to build fences or build bollards around the entire place.”
Photos taken by Officer Lucas DeGand of the Feb. 16 damage show wheel ruts carved into the grassy area, with some patches reduced to muddy mess.
“It’s a problem for sure,” said Brian Smith, deputy Port Angeles police chief.
“It’s not a new problem. It’s a recurring problem.”
DeGand estimated about $1,000 worth of damage had been done to the grass, Smith said.
“In the most recent case, we’re looking for information on the responsible parties,” Smith said.
Delikat said maintenance staff members have been dealing with the problem for the last five or six years and have placed knee-high rocks around many of the grassy areas meant to block access from the vehicle pathways that lead into the park.
Rocks first were placed on the west side of the park in 2011. More were added to the eastern side as the pickup truck joyriders moved there, Delikat said.
The vandals, though, sometimes simply move the rocks to get past them, Delikat added.
The damage is seen most often in winter, when few park visitors are present and the grassy areas are effectively deserted, Delikat explained.
Maintenance staff reseed the damaged lawns as fresh tire ruts are discovered, though Delikat said, some areas have been so heavily driven upon that seeds can no longer take hold.
Smith said it is difficult to catch those responsible in the act, although anyone found driving through the park where they’re not supposed to would at the very least likely get a ticket.
Someone trying to get away after being approached by police would face a more serious offense, Smith explained, and could be arrested and booked into jail if they’re thought to be responsible for thousands of dollars in damages.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.