West York patrolman Mark Jackson said officers must check all four borough parks at least twice during their 12-hour patrol shifts.
West York patrolman Mark Jackson said officers must check all four borough parks at least twice during their 12-hour patrol shifts. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Chris Dunn)
Vandalism at Shelly Park has cost West York Borough thousands of dollars in repairs in the last few years, said councilman Brian Wilson.

The borough's insurance has covered a lot of the damages -- including $3,600 for a new slide -- but Wilson believes more has to be done.

"We want to get families with young children into the parks, especially as people stay in the area for summer vacation because they can't afford to go elsewhere," Wilson said.

In an effort to stop vandals, Wilson is asking the borough to consider purchasing security cameras, motion lights and a device that creates a high squeal noise that only teens can hear. In total, the equipment could cost about $7,000, he said.

It's a price Wilson thinks is worth paying -- through the assistance of fundraisers and grants -- to make the parks more family-friendly.

The items would be purchased through Liberty Park Equipment, which Wilson said is the only recreation equipment company in the United States to offer that kind of technology.

The high-squeal device would run at night, sending out a pitch so high that only young people with good hearing would notice it, he said.

The device would only be used in a small area of the park, Wilson said, and would not disturb surrounding neighbors.

Wilson said a lot of the problems have revolved around teens going in and out of the park, damaging equipment, starting fights and possibly dealing drugs.

It got so bad last year that the council decided to take down basketball hoops at the end of the summer to keep people from hanging out in those areas, he added.

He's also hoping they can replacing swing sets for preschoolers, taking out some of the bigger swings to keep older kids from using them.

"We're trying to give the park back to the community," he said.

Some of the changes have kept residents from frequenting the park.

West York patrolman Mark Jackson shows a checklist that officers use during their 12-hour patrol shifts. Officers must visit the borough’s four parks
West York patrolman Mark Jackson shows a checklist that officers use during their 12-hour patrol shifts. Officers must visit the borough's four parks twice each during their shifts. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Chris Dunn)

Michael Nelson and his 5-year-old daughter rode their bikes to Shelly Park Saturday evening, but they don't visit as often as they used to. Since the basketball hoops came down last year, Nelson visits only to let his daughter run around and play on the equipment.

And during their visit Saturday, the little girl was disappointed to see the swing sets had been taken down.

"I don't bother coming as often," Nelson said. "I understand the borough is trying to keep the bullies away, but it's keeping us away, too."

With a new borough solicitor, Wilson thinks it might take several months before anything is approved.

"I would love to have everything I'm asking for, but I have to be realistic," Wilson said. "If we need to do one or the other and I can only get video cameras, that's still helpful."

West York Police Chief Justin Seibel did not return phone calls or emails for comment.
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