By Brandi Makuski
Vandals have tagged another city park with graffiti.
Stevens Point police were called to Pfiffner Pioneer Park at 10:17 a.m. on May 12 after a parks department employee noticed graffiti on two buildings, according to Assistant Police Chief Tom Zenner.
What appeared to be either a turnip or an apple, accompanied by the letters “BS” was spray-painted on the south end of the Pfiffner Building, also known as the Central Company building.
The park’s new bathroom facility was tagged with drawings of a fish, a rose, and the letters “NPA”.
Police believe both incidents occurred in the early morning hours of May 12.
Zenner said the graffiti doesn’t appear to have any gang affiliation, and police were still investigating the meaning behind the letters painted on the buildings.
“This pops up every once in a while,” Zenner said Tuesday. “We don’t yet know if it’s related to the graffiti at Zenoff and the Sculpture Park.”
Police were called on May 4 after someone associated with the Stevens Point Youth Baseball Association noticed graffiti on a building at Zenoff Park on the league’s opening day. After further investigation, police discovered additional vandalism at the nearby Sculpture Park. In that instance, the vandal or vandals used spray paint to tag buildings and exhibits with sexually-graphic pictures and racist terms.
The May 12 incident was far more vanilla, Zenner said, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less work for the city.
Public Works Director Scott Beduhn, who is currently acting as interim parks director, said on Tuesday he wasn’t immediately certain of the costs associated with remediating the graffiti. Markings on the Pfiffner Building could be simply covered with a new coat of paint, Beduhn said, which parks employee Ken Wanta did on Tuesday afternoon.
“The new bathroom will be a struggle because of the masonry there,” Beduhn said. “I don’t know if we’ll need to take more drastic measures like sandblasting, but there’s always a risk you end up making more issues with the building if you have to do that. It’s not an easy thing to tackle.”
“This seems like it’s minuscule, the graffiti, but unfortunately, it’s a big problem,” Zenner said. “Just the damage that it causes; there’s a reason we have an ordinance that you have to remove graffiti from your property—it’s kind of like the ‘broken window’ theory. If you start seeing graffiti, more of it will follow. The quicker you can get it off of buildings or whatever property, the hope is, it mitigates future problems, which we’ve had in the past. That’s why we created the ordinance.”
Ordinance or no, Zenner said police still need to investigate the crimes, and they are asking for leads from the public on either incident.
“Anybody with information, or anyone who thinks they may have seen something, we’d appreciate you contacting the police department,” Zenner said. “We’ve got to catch the people who are doing this.”
Zenner also urged residents to call the non-emergency number, (715) 346-1500, if they see anything suspicious in local parks.
“If you have a concern that something is amiss, call the police department,” he said. “Don’t over-rationalize it; call us. That’s what we’re here for. That’s our job. The worst thing that happens is we show up and there are no problems.”