The bathrooms at Marion Central Park are locked temporarily after vandals filled sinks and smeared walls with mud and destroyed soap dispensers.
It’s a destructive mess city employees clean up all the time, city parks and recreation director Margo Yates said.
“To be honest, I am glad it was mud, not poop. It’s been poop before, too,” she said.
City park employees discovered the latest mess this past week after spending hours picking up trash strewn all over the park.
There are security cameras in Central Park, but recording near a bathroom is forbidden for privacy reasons.
Recordings they do capture often aren’t helpful.
Yates said ongoing vandalism of the park’s bathrooms often leave staff with no choice but to close them to the public.
“They may not be able to get to the mess immediately — or it’s a two-hour cleanup job and they have something else on their list,” she said. “We do our best.”
Marion’s city police help by locking the restrooms at night, but she admits they have better things to do.
She is just frustrated that the acts of a few people can close a city facility to everyone.
“It’s taxpayer money, it’s just sad,” she said.
This week’s closing of the restrooms may not have been a direct result of the vandalism, but Yates surmises employees may not have wanted to deal with another muddy mess during this week’s expected bad weather.
“You know, it’s pretty much something in there every day,” she said, adding the closing would be temporary. “And they might have decided to give it a couple of days to dry out.”
The public can help by reporting illegal or suspicious activity to authorities.
Visitors to Central Park also can dispose of their trash in Dumpsters at the back of the park if the bins are full.
Picking up trash may seem small, but it frees park staff to tackle other jobs.
“We could go spend time on something else and have nice bathrooms at the same time,” she said. “There are ways people can help out and we appreciate it.”