Official: Repairs to vandalized West Deer sports fields could cost thousands
Someone drove a pickup truck in circles on several West Deer sports fields, causing significant damage, officials said.
Township Manager Dan Mator said Thursday he estimates repairs for the damaged fields at Nike Site Park and Bairdford Park will cost thousands of dollars. The township has been working to improve the parks over the last several years.
“I’m disgusted,” said Mator, who said roughly $1.4 million in upgrades to Nike Site Park were nearly complete when the vandalism took place. “Two weeks ago we felt on top of the world because a former nuclear missile site that was unhealthy for anybody to be on is now this beautiful park, and you have somebody who cares that little, doing that kind of damage for no reason in particular.
“This is going to be thousands, if not over $10,000, to repair.”
The former Army Nike site, once part of the U.S. government’s Cold War-era missile program, is now home to West Deer’s senior center, Deer Lakes youth football, and soccer and lacrosse fields. It’s located off Route 910.
Renovations at Nike Site Park have been ongoing for about four years, paid for through township money and grants. They include a football field, a football building, a playground, a walking trail, pavilions and parking areas.
“There’s a deeply unsettling feeling when you know how much work went into this by so many different people,” Mator said.
Police Chief Jon Lape said the vandals struck between 6 p.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. Wednesday. He said someone drove around in circles on the soccer and lacrosse fields at Nike Site Park and the soccer field and outer lawn and parking area of the baseball fields at Bairdford Park.
“They drove on it, [were] doing doughnuts,” Lape said. “Just driving through the snow and making circles and driving where they shouldn’t have been.”
He said he believes there were three people in the vehicle.
The football field at Nike Site Park wasn’t damaged because it’s surrounded by a fence.
Mator discovered the damage Wednesday when he and township engineer Scott Shoup went to Nike Site Park to look at a pavilion site.
“I glanced over and I saw it instantly, and both our jaws dropped,” Mator said. “They were going at it so hard that chunks of turf were launched from the field onto the parking lot.”
Mator said he contacted Lape and Public Works Foreman John Yourish. Then he learned that Bairdford Park had been vandalized as well. The township this week was awarded $100,000 in state money for improvements to that park.
Mator said a landscaper will assess the fields Friday to determine the cost of the damages. He said the walking trail at Nike Site Park may also be damaged because the vandals would have needed to drive over the trail to get to them.
Officials believe the same people are responsible for vandalizing both parks.
Anyone with information can call the police department at 724-265-1100.