Cedar City mayor officially reopens ‘Park Discovery’

Emily Haley, 3, plays with her parents at the playground at Park Discovery Friday after it was officially reopened to the public. Cedar City, Utah, April 22, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George/Cedar City News
Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson swings on the playground at Park Discovery Friday after she reopens it to the public. Cedar City, Utah, April 22, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George/Cedar City News
Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson swings on the playground at Park Discovery Friday after she reopens it to the public. Cedar City, Utah, April 22, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George/Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY – Discovery Park is officially open following a week of community volunteers cleaning up graffiti spray-painted all over the playground last weekend.

Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson declared the park open again Friday morning with a ribbon-cutting.

Wilson thanked the city staff and the more than 150 volunteers who donated their time and skills to repairing the damage done.

“It’s been amazing because the graffiti and vandalism happened last Friday night so under a week of when the graffiti occurred we got the park shut down, cleaned it up, and the whole thing repainted and reopened,” Wilson said. “So it speaks volumes of both the city staff and their dedication, but also the pride the community takes in our parks and our different areas. People know we don’t tolerate graffiti and vandalism here.”

City officials closed the park for repairs all week, beginning last Saturday morning, after authorities found playground equipment vandalized the night before. Police estimate there was approximately $5,000 in damage.

Lachlan Hughes, 4, plays on the playground at Park Discovery Friday after it was officially reopened it to the public. Cedar City, Utah, April 22, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George/Cedar City News
Lachlan Hughes, 4, plays on the playground at Park Discovery Friday after it was officially reopened to the public. Cedar City, Utah, April 22, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George/Cedar City News

Police arrested two juveniles Monday in connection with the incident after a Wal-Mart employee remembered he sold cans of spray paint the night of the vandalism.

“It was great community policing. It was like right out of a textbook. We had an employee at Wal-Mart who remembered selling cans of paint and we were able to look at the video footage and then work with the schools to locate the juveniles,” Cedar City Police Lt. Darin Adams said.

Authorities were able to find and arrest the third juvenile suspect in the case the next day in coordination with the St. George Police Department.

According to a news release by Cedar City Police Department, the suspects were booked into the Iron County Youth Corrections Facility on suspicion of criminal mischief. Authorities do not believe the graffiti was gang related.

“Someone said that the ‘UGS’ they painted on the playground equipment means something, but we’re not sure what it is,” he said. “We do know it’s not affiliated with a bona fide street gang.”

Aiden Hughes, 3, plays on the playground at Park Discovery Friday after it was officially reopened to the public. Cedar City, Utah, April 22, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George/Cedar City News
Aiden Hughes, 3, plays on the playground at Park Discovery Friday after it was officially reopened to the public. Cedar City, Utah, April 22, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George/Cedar City News

Cedar City Police Public Information Officer Jimmy Roden said police plan to step up patrols in the parks, which is usual procedure during this time of year.

“We increase patrol this time of year anyway because of the increased use due to the warm weather,” Roden said. “And now, because of the graffiti, we will be increasing our presence.”

Councilman Ron Adams said he was surprised how fast the city was able to open the park.

“After seeing all the damage, I honestly did not think we would get it open this fast. I’m amazed,” he said.

Besides the volunteers who physically helped to restore the park, numerous businesses donated supplies and money, Wilson said.

The public can help prevent future incidents such as this by community policing, said Lt. Adams. One way of doing this is for community members to form neighborhood watch groups in their areas.

More than 150 volunteers helped this week to clean the graffiti sprayed all over Park Discovery last weekend. Cedar City, Utah, April 22, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George/Cedar City News
More than 150 volunteers helped this week to clean the graffiti sprayed all over Park Discovery last weekend. Cedar City, Utah, April 22, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George/Cedar City News

“We’ve seen a lot of success with neighborhood watch groups that work together in cooperation with the police to control the crime in their area,” he said.

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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