Vandalism hampers sports complex construction

March 25, 1994|By Jody Roesler | Jody Roesler,Special to The Sun

The long-awaited Lake Shore Athletic Complex, under construction between Mountain and Woods roads, should be open by the middle of May, so long as no other heavy machinery is stolen and nothing else is vandalized.

Thieves stole a small earth-moving machine known as a Case Uni-Loader from the complex Saturday night, said Sgt. Craig Korvin of the county police Eastern District station.

"This thing was driven across the field, and had to be loaded onto something and driven away," said Sergeant Korvin. "We don't have a lot to go on at this point."

"It looks like they wanted the equipment," said Joe Cannon, director of the county Recreation and Parks Department. "They just went in and got it and left."

"It should only push us back a couple of days," added Greg Formwalt, foreman of the construction crew from Melvin Benhoff Sons, the company building the complex.

Mr. Formwalt estimated that the Uni Loader is worth $26,000, pushing the cost of thievery and vandalism past $40,000 since construction on the complex began in 1992.

He said vandals have driven over a hill at the north end of the complex, tearing up the grass, and dumped trash in several places. In addition, they have broken padlocks on the main gate, torn holes in the fences and stolen lumber and shingles.

One resident told Mr. Formwalt that the gates were open and the park was loaded with people last Sunday.

"This is for the people around here, and we've put in a lot of time and effort into keeping the place up," Mr. Formwalt said.

"You sit back and think about all the stuff that has happened, and, yeah, it's getting a little out of hand."

Mr. Formwalt said that they expect to finish the blacktop on the parking lots and roads and finish planting by next week.

"The project should be finished sometime in May," Mr. Cannon said. "They want us to dedicate it sometime in early fall.

"They have a big soccer tournament there, and they'd like to tie it in with that."

The $5.2 million facility will include two outdoor basketball courts, one lighted adult softball diamond, three multipurpose fields (two lighted), six small baseball diamonds (one lighted), a playground, a storage building and restrooms.

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