Skate park closed, $1,000 reward offered after vandals hit Riverfront Park

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - Vandalism at a park in Pocahontas has the city offering a 1,000 dollar reward to whoever can help lead to an arrest. City officials hope security cameras and added police presence will clean up the problem, which has the mayor ramped up to make some changes.

"You know, it kind of breaks your heart. You put all that effort in and the first weekend you're open they go in and destroy those bathrooms," said Pocahontas Mayor Frank Bigger.

Signs at Riverfront Park in Pocahontas warns visitors of the consequences of tearing up the property. But those signs, didn't keep some vandals out. "They took the toilet paper, we have double rolls, and stuffed the rolls in the plumbing and a lot of the folks that used the restroom instead of using the toilet they went on the floor," said Bigger, which he says left the newly renovated restroom facility a mess.

The park suffered severe damage last spring, with water at least eight to ten feet high. "Everything was destroyed in the flood...the plumbing, the electrical outlets in the camping areas. Last year, we miss the whole season due to flood. No one has camped here for over a year." said Bigger.

The city spent thousands for repairs. But that hard work was stunted with this weekend's vandalism. Underneath the bridge, graffiti covers cement posts, which Bigger says didn't appear until earlier this year. He believes these problems stem from the skate park.

"We thought hey enough is enough lets close that park down," said Bigger.

Region 8 News talked with Police Chief Cecil Tackett, who is familiar with the issue. "We've had several reports of drug activity going on down here. Damages to different businesses, thefts, criminal mischief," said Tackett.

Monday the city used a backhoe to pull up the three skate ramps. Because the park drops off below the road, Bigger says it can be difficult for police to patrol the area. The good news is Mayor Bigger says they don't plan to eliminate the skate park forever.

"With the plans we have, we will eventual build and newer and nicer skate park," said Bigger.

Bigger hopes to move the skate park to the north end of town where, he says, it can be monitored closer. Of course, in order to move forward with the plans it will still have to be approved by city council.

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