BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Plumbing and electrical equipment damaged or stolen altogether. Cleaning supplies were stolen and locks cut. These are things that have happened at Virginia Avenue Park, located on Virginia Avenue just west of Mt. Vernon in Bakersfield, in the last week. The issue has caused the bathrooms at the park to be shut down indefinitely.
The situation has Kern County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop dismayed.
"An individual or a small group of individuals have ruined it for everybody else, and that's sad and upsetting," said Alsop.
According to Alsop, park bathrooms tend to attract crime and vandalism, and although the county has engaged security and custodial staff, he says it's not enough to entirely prevent incidents like this.
"Park restrooms are a magnet, seemingly a magnet now. It's not everywhere. We have really just over a handful, probably more than a handful, of real problem areas," said Alsop, adding that this is not the first time the Virginia Avenue Park bathrooms have had to be shut down.
Last year, the county spent roughly $30,000 for major repairs to the building and an additional $6,000 to fix minor issues.
"We spent some money fixing them up, getting them reopened," said Alsop. "They were opened back in September, and since that time we've had multiple, I think 14 or 15 different incidents of vandalism."
Alsop says the public deserves to have nice restroom facilities, which is why the county tries so hard to keep them open. He says the county does have plans to not only reopen the restrooms, but also renovate the entire Virginia Avenue Park.
"We're gonna spend a million and a half dollars just in Virginia Park doing upgrades over the next 12 to 24 months. We're completely redoing the play area; we're putting in an all-new play structure, all new surfacing," said Alsop.
Alsop says there will also be new shade areas and a brand-new restroom facility. He adds that due to the constant issues, the restrooms will most likely be closed until renovations are complete.
Anyone with information about the vandalism is encouraged to contact the Kern County Parks Ranger Service at 868-7016.
23ABC IN-DEPTH: VANDALISM IS A CRIME
According to the Shouse California Law Group, vandalism in the state of California is defined as "maliciously" damaging, destroying, or defacing property that is not the property of the person doing the damage.
Vandalism is a misdemeanor if the amount of damages is assessed at less than $400. If the amount of the damages is assessed at more than $400, a vandal can be subject to a felony charge.
A conviction for vandalism can carry up to one year incarceration in a county jail and a fine of up to $1,000 for first time offenders. For people with prior vandalism convictions, the fine can be as much as $5,000.