COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A new park in northeast Colorado Springs will get money for security cameras after being targeted for trouble several times since it opened in early July.
Vandals and thieves have caused an estimated $80,000 in damage to Venezia Park, on Briargate Parkway.
The Parks and Recreation Department asked the City Council on Tuesday for emergency funding of $450,000 to install security cameras at the park.
The $13 million park is in an area where residents complained for years about the lack of parks and recreational opportunities.
Police said they don't have the manpower to patrol the park more often, but the Parks Department has paid $125,000 for off-duty officers to watch the area.
The City Council voted 8-1 on Tuesday, approving the emergency funding. Yolanda Avila cast the lone dissenting vote.
"I'm worried about the appearance of one park getting preferential treatment over others," she said. "We have needs at other parks and community centers. I'd like to see them all made safer."
Parks Operations Manager Kurt Schroeder admitted that vandalism and theft happens at all city parks, to varying degrees.
"We have cameras as Garden of the Gods and that's working well," he said. "We just don't have the dollars to do everything we want, so we have to set priorities. This park is a priority because it's new and has more damage to it in a short amount of time than any other city park."
Schroeder said the damage has ranged from stealing tools from crews while the park was under construction, to pulling out copper wiring, to disturbing types of graffiti.
"We've seen the hammer and sickle, derogatory comments toward police officers and what I believe are satanic symbols," Schroeder said. "There's been a lot of it and that's what worries me."
Schroeder said what likely helped convince the council to approve the emergency allocation is that the money comes not from the city or parks budget, but from a special fund paid by developers for future park projects.
"If the council had voted against it, then we would have had to go into our budget," he said. "That would affect our facilities and programs."
Several park visitors who spoke with KRDO NewsChannel 13 said they didn't know about the situation but are glad the city will install security cameras at the park.
No details were given on how many cameras will be needed and when they'll be installed.