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Spike In Park Vandalism Puts Strain On Limited Lodi Budget

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LODI (CBS13) – City officials in Lodi say vandals have caused $50,000 in damage to parks in just six months, and that’s causing some difficult decisions on what will be fixed.

A spike in vandalism is forcing city leaders to make tough choices. There isn’t enough money to fix all of the damage.

The most recent case is a restroom fire at a popular Lodi park, and the city doesn’t know when it will have the cash to repair the damage.

“We believe there was some kind of fuel source that was added with the intention of causing damage,” interim parks director Jeff Hood said.

A trash can fire spread to the restrooms of Katzakian Park. Signs on the door read “Closed” and will likely stay that way for a while.

“I don’t know if this is a priority,” Hood said. “It’s such a big number that it hurts our ability to do others things.”

It will cost the city $10,000 to fix the restrooms. That’s the entire amount set aside to fix all park buildings each year.

“It’s inconvenient,” said Sharon Borges, who took her daughter to the park on Wednesday.

The out-of-control vandalism has totaled to about $50,000 in damage in the last six months, leaving the city to pick and choose which repairs it can afford to make.

“It’s hard to plan for something like that,” Hood said.

Vandals have targeted Lodi Lake Recreation Area not once, but twice, destroying light poles worth thousands of dollars.

“We made repairs and then within two months many of those poles were destroyed again,” Hood said.

Signs of vandalism are all over. Graffiti, metal thefts and damage to a pavilion rooftop used for events.

The city is installing a pair sophisticated security cameras to deter and hopefully catch vandals.

Park goers hope it happens fast.

“I don’t feel safe taking her to the park,” Borges said. “I don’t know who is doing this, when they come around.”

The city doesn’t have enough cash for the $6,500 cameras in every park, but if neighbors want to help sponsor a park, the city is taking donations.

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