Russell Park vandalized, Ilion officials plan to install surveillance cameras


ILION, N.Y. (WKTV) - For years, Russell Park in Ilion has played host to parties, get-togethers and sporting events. Most recently though it's been the target of vandals.

Officials plan on installing surveillance cameras at Russell Park in the near future because someone set picnic tables on fire and spray-painted graffiti on a building.

Officials say the vandalism must have happened sometime over the past couple of weeks since some of the graffiti mentions the shootings in the valley that took place on March 13, 2013. "It was very hateful what they did up there," said Deputy Mayor Beth Neale. "The wording and the phrasing of things and the symbols that they wrote. Absolutely unnecessary. Especially after what had happened. And to pay homage to someone who committed those acts, who committed those crimes. That was wrong. Completely wrong."

Some of the more vulgar words have already been covered up by the DPW Commissioner. The park is closed to traffic during the winter months so whoever committed these crimes were likely on foot.

It's not the first time the park has been vandalized. Last year a man was charged after stealing pipes from the pavilion and selling it for scrap metal. But these hateful words hit too close to home. "They destroyed a beautiful park. An area that people bring their children and they have parties," said Neale. "It's just another case of vandalism at Russell Park but this one I think is one of the most devastating."

The vandalism was first noticed after someone saw pictures of the graffiti on Facebook. Mayor John Stephens was immediately notified and the wheels to prevent future crime were set in motion.

Now officials say surveillance cameras will be installed to monitor the area. "It's extensive damage to the point where we might have to tear down things. We're definitely going to make a move to use surveillance now," said Neale. "We will fix it but we're also going to keep a better eye on the traffic in the parks and now there will be surveillance and smile, you'll be on camera."

Ilion Police are investigating the crime. Officials are hoping anyone with information will step forward. "Being that it's winter it isn't easily accessible so the normal people that are in the park aren't there and you didn't have any witnesses at the moment that could tell us who did it," said Neale.

The village will replace the picnic tables that were burned but because it is a public park the tables have to meet the American Disabilities Act Standards and may cost a bit more to replace. Neale isn't exactly sure how much it will cost to replace the tables and install the cameras but plans are underway.

The park should be cleaned up before it opens later this month. "You have actual people that are residents of the village who care about these different parks," said Neale. "They put not only their time but their heart and souls into caring for these areas because it brought them joy when they were younger and they have people in their lives that it brings joy to now and people try to take care of these things but unfortunately in any society you're going to have a few people that don't care."

Anyone with information is asked to call Ilion Police at (315) 894-9911.

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