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Newton parks see increase in vandalism this summer

Published: Friday, June 28, 2013 10:50 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, June 28, 2013 10:55 a.m. CST
(Nathan Unsworth/Special to the Daily News)
The Newton Parks and Recreation Department has seen an increase in vandalism in the past few years, according to Nathan Unsworth, administrative parks superintendent. Last week, the graffiti pictured above appeared on the wall at Sunset Park. It has been cleaned off.

Maytag Park, along with other areas of Newton, has seen an increase in vandalism over the past two summers.

Nathan Unsworth, administrative superintendent for the Newton Parks and Recreation Department, has been working for the city for three years. He said that in his time working for the city, he’s seen an increase in vandalism in Newton’s parks.

Some of the vandalism incidents include moving picnic tables, ripping shingles off of buildings and excessive littering. Unsworth said that while vandalism is harmful to the community, some of it is to be expected.

“Maytag is our popular park, so we have a high concentration of people in there,” Unsworth said. “So with that comes some of those problems.”

While Maytag Park seems to be a highly targeted area, Unsworth said vandalism does occur in other places. Just last week, graffiti appeared on the wall at Sunset Park. The wall, which was emblazoned with the words “Obama = Terrorist,” has been cleaned off now.

Unsworth said vandalism in Newton’s public places makes the community look bad and prevents Newton from developing and growing.

“I think it’s important for everyone to realize that this is a community space where everyone is supposed to feel welcomed and safe,” Unsworth said. “Whenever we have damaged property, it takes down the value of our parks and the value of our community.”

When Unsworth worked for Jasper County Conservation, he said the county parks and public spaces didn’t have as much vandalism as Newton’s parks but that the city’s parks see more traffic

The parks department currently is coordinating its efforts with the Newton Police Department and aims to curb incidents of vandalism this summer. Unsworth suggested anyone who sees vandalism during the day should call the parks department at (641) 792-1470 and call the police department at (641) 792-5912 during the evening.

Staff writer Dave Hon may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at dhon@newtondailynews.com.

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