Gary’s Buffington Park hit by vandals
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org | 648-3154 June 19, 2012 12:28PM
Melted plastic hangs ragged from what was a platform on a playground structure at Buffington Park near 7th Avenue and Delaware Street in Gary, Ind. Tuesday June 19, 2012. The park was recently vandalized, including some parts set on fire. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 19, 2012 9:35PM
GARY — Vandals burned playground equipment and removed bricks last weekend from the war memorial at Buffington Park, which had recently been restored by a youth group.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson talked about the damage Tuesday morning at the Mayor’s Leadership Prayer Breakfast.
She said a reward is being offered leading to the arrest of the vandals.
The park, at 720 E. 7th Ave., once stood as one of the city’s premiere parks just east of Broadway.
A war memorial lists the names of Gary residents who served during World War II. It also has a playground and splash pad which a parks department worker said will be turned on in a few weeks.
Char marks and burned mulch were visible in the playground area and a sign listing park rules had been torched. Some fencing had been ripped up and a few rows of bricks were missing from the memorial. Cpl. Gabrielle King said the damage occured between 5 p.m. Friday and Monday. “There’s not a whole lot for us to go on. We just found out about it yesterday,” she said.
Freeman-Wilson honored kids from the Bridgette C. Kelly Youth Foundation earlier this year with a Good Deeds award for cleaning up the park. Most of the volunteers came from the Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy.
The city just announced a new Adopt a Park program in which it’s encouraging citizens to restore and take care of parks throughout the city.
“I was discouraged for a minute,” said Freeman-Wilson. “It brought home this warfare is really a spiritual one, some people just don’t know any better,” she said to the prayer breakfast audience.
In 2009, Richard Ligon, who is now the city’s public safety director and formerly headed the JROTC program for the Gary schools, brought students to the park to lay new bricks around the memorial.
Ligon did the work to beautify the park and enhance the area. The city supplied 9,300 bricks for the project completed by Ligon with Wirt High School students.
Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call the Gary Police Department’s anonymous tip hot line, 1-866-274-6347.