TRUMANN, Ark. (KAIT) - The sight of vandalism and trash piled in one area town has both residents and elected officials searching for answers as work was done Sunday to help fix some of the issues.
About 20 people worked Sunday afternoon at the tennis courts in the Cedar Park area of town to deal with the issues. Heather Shrader, with the group “Citizens for a Better Trumann”, said children also volunteered to help clean up some of the problem areas.
Trumann Mayor Barbara Lewallen said Friday that she has seen a lot of problems pile up in her town in recent weeks, with the city also planning to clean it up.
According to a post Friday on her Facebook page, Lewallen said the city has seen problems with picnic tables piled up at Cedar Park, benches at Cedar Park being destroyed as well as vandalism at the skate park ramps.
Shrader said she believes the problems at the skate park are more of an issue of neglect, instead of vandalism; and that people in the area are working to save the skate park.
Shrader also said she contacted Lewallen Sunday for help on the skate park, saying the mayor told her it was a “lost cause.”
However, Lewallen countered areas of the park were in bad shape with some areas that looked to be set on fire and literally in pieces, making power washing impossible to do.
Lewallen also said a city committee also agreed, noting the problems.
The problems, Lewallen said in the Friday post, have frustrated her and residents alike.
“Recently all the benches at Cedar Park were deliberately destroyed. When spring is near, the parks employees go through the parks to repair benches, tables and playground equipment and to prepare for mowing and trimming. For the past several years, volunteers have come out to help in the parks. Employees from Columbia Forest Products did this 2 years in a row,” Lewallen said in the post. “It is discouraging for the volunteers and the City to put time, effort and money in trying to maintain and improve our parks when some in the public try to destroy everything.”
Lewallen said it will cost nearly $200,000 alone to replace equipment at the skate park ramps.
“Vandals have ruined the riding surfaces and painted graffiti everywhere. Those few ruin it for the people who do appreciate the parks,” Lewallen said.
However, Lewallen said the city plans to work to fix the problems.
“Now that warm weather is coming, the City will make every effort to clean up the destruction and work to make the parks enjoyable for our citizens,” Lewallen said.
Shrader said work needs to be done to help fix some of the problems in the Trumann area.
She said she believes a major problem is waiting for the city to do the work, when there is no money in the city budget but money available for "$60,000 city trucks.”
However, Lewallen countered the city and area businesses have worked in recent years to help fix problem areas but that the city has to work within a budget to get things done. Also, Lewallen said the city’s garbage truck was down for eight weeks this winter as parks employees worked to help with the garbage.
Shrader said she believes it is a cop-out to call things “vandalism”, calling it poor leadership by city officials as residents take the initiative to complete work. Shrader said she asked for help from the city on the event Sunday.
As for the event Sunday, Lewallen said she applauds the interest and work of the people but that the city had no advance notice to get a crew ready to help, especially on a Sunday afternoon.
However, Lewallen said city officials are willing to help with any project in the future if there is planning involved.
Shrader said the group plans to hold meetings to talk to people about making a difference in their community.
She said it was not a matter of being negative, but about holding city officials accountable.