Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

Children's Park cameras installed to catch vandals


November 13, 2019 | View PDF

Vicky Dorvee

Security cameras have been installed at Niwot Children's Park to catch and thwart those who would do damage to the community asset.

Niwot's Children's Park on 1st Avenue is a place of joy and playfulness, bustling with happy children. The award-winning, community-funded park has also been on the receiving end of destructive mischievousness. But now, the wrongdoers will be caught on video and there will be ramifications.

Sadly, there have been recurring incidents of graffiti scrawled in the bathrooms and on the sidewalks and there has been damage done to the structures and creatures. Embellishments have been pried off of permanent structures and there has even been the theft of a donor's memorial plaque. To add insult to injury, frequently garbage is left behind even while it's posted that the park is a pack-it-in, pack-it-out facility, so that the cost of trash pickup doesn't get added to park upkeep.

Park committee member Riki Frea helped to raise the donations that funded the community playground. Frea said, "We value our community coming together to build the park, and we want to be able to preserve it. Unfortunately this is a measure we found we have to take due to repeated instances of vandalism."

Aside from repairing the damage and cleaning up the refuse and defacement, the result is that the Niwot Community Arts Association, which manages the park for Boulder County, concluded security cameras were needed to catch any vandalism.

The project to install full-coverage cameras is now complete and signs advising the public of the 24-hour security surveillance have been affixed to the entry fence.

Park committee member Jim Fletemyer, who was instrumental in designing the park, said, "We hate to have to even be putting the word out formally in the newspaper, but these things go into decline if you don't nip it in the bud as soon as it rears its ugly head. We don't want to have to track down and prosecute people, but we're now at year three and we've got to say there is a problem."

When vandals are caught, they will be turned over to authorities and will be charged to the full extent of the law to make an example of them with the hopes of preventing future destruction.

Fletemyer said a lot of thought and effort went into making sure that features could not be easily removed, so it appears that someone worked rather hard to pry pieces off. That combined with a series of other destructive incidents has led to the need for a higher level of security being necessary.

The annual cost to maintain the park is $12,000 to cover water, sewer, cleaning, mowing, landscape maintenance, electricity, wood chip replacement, minor repairs, and insurance. The majority of the expenses are paid from Rock & Rails revenue by the NCAA. Donors and volunteers also covered the cost of purchasing and installing the security system.

The camera system is closed circuit, meaning that the recorded video is not available online or streamed to any outlets. Parents can rest assured that they and their children are not being watched and the video is not used for any purpose aside from recording and identifying those who intentionally cause damage to the park.

To report incidents of damage and graffiti, call the Niwot Community Arts Association at 303-652-2433. To reserve the park and make donations, visit http://www.NiwotChildrensPark.com.


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