It’s hard to believe that punching holes in cinderblock walls, ripping toilets off the walls and breaking porcelain sinks is someone’s idea of recreation, but that’s just what has happened repeatedly over the past six to eight months at Van Pugh North Park on Lake Lanier.
The on-again, off-again vandalism at Van Pugh North threatens closure of the bathrooms at one of the most popular parks on the south end of the lake. Ultimately, the park itself may be closed to prevent further destruction of government property.
“Due to health and safety concerns, if we have to close the restrooms, that will mean closing the park,” said Chris Arthur, recreation program manager with the Corps of Engineers. “Right now, we’ve been spending thousands of taxpayers’ money to clean up, repair and replace what has been destroyed.”
Arthur said that the destruction has gone far beyond physical damage to the restrooms.
“The vandals tore down the new life-jacket loaner station that was built recently by a local Eagle Scout,” he said. “They set a picnic table on fire, put paint bombs in the restrooms and tampered with the water flow to facilities causing really large water bills.”
Several individuals and groups have offered to assist with services, supplies and materials to replace and repair the property.
“Right now, we’ve been fixing this damage so visitors to the lake can continue to enjoy the park,” he said. “At some point, however, we can’t just keep doing this. We do appreciate the offers to assist, but it hasn’t come to that yet.”
The incidents have been reported to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office. And when the perpetrators have been caught, citations will be written and the matter will most likely be referred to the Federal Magistrate Court.
“It’s a federal offense to destroy government property,” Arthur said.
The Corps has asked the public’s assistance to keep their eyes open and to report any activity or people who seem involved in suspicious actions around the lake, particularly in the parks and campgrounds.
“If you see something, say something,” he said. “And if you see someone in the act of destruction, call 911 and report it to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office. With everyone working together, we hope we can put an end to this vandalism.”