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Weekend vandals trash restrooms at Freeland Park again
What is it about the restrooms at Freeland Park that attracts vandals?
The latest in a string of attacks came when police received a 911 call at 6 a.m. Sunday morning and notified Island County parks officials.
“We got the word that the bad guys had hit us again,” said County Public Works Director Bill Oakes.
“They slammed both men’s and women’s restrooms and stuffed trash in toilets and urinals,” he said.
There was more.
“They threw eggs inside on the walls, then smeared them with what looked like beans or chili,” Oakes added. “Or both. The smell was overwhelming, and overall, it was pretty nasty.”
Vandals also wrapped the toilets in cellophane.
Because the county lacks the money and manpower to have someone lock and unlock the restroom doors on a daily basis, the facilities remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Historically, the restrooms have been a problem for us,” Oakes said.
Two years ago, someone set fire to the waste baskets in the seaside facility, causing serious smoke damage. In June 2007, thugs caused about $1,000 damage to the facility when they clogged the septic system, forcing the water to overflow. They then defaced the walls.
“It took two days to clean and repair it,” Oakes noted. He added that, apart from labor costs from the clean-up efforts, there was no structural damage.
Det. Ed Wallace of the Island County’s Sheriff’s Office said that the restrooms appear to be a target.
“It’s dark and there are no homes nearby,” he said. “No arrests have been made and the investigation is continuing.”
Oakes said he had a crew onsite Sunday morning and the restrooms re-opened later that day. With the big July 3 fireworks party coming up, he hopes no more problems surface.
“Yeah, I get a little frustrated,” Oakes said. “It always boils down to a small rotten apple spoiling things for everyone else.”
Freeland Park is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. Just down the hill from Freeland Hall, the property includes picnic tables, a recently refurbished picnic shelter, playground equipment and restroom facilities on the shore of Holmes Harbor.
Freeland resident Dick Carroll takes an early morning walk along the beach every morning. He found a familiar but unwelcome sight during his outing Sunday.
“By the time I got there, the police had put up the yellow crime-scene tape,” he said. “The county guy was water-blasting the walls. I asked him if they got both restrooms and he nodded. I could tell he was disgusted.”
There have been a series of incidents involving vandalism in the Freeland area in recent weeks.
Two weeks ago, mailboxes were knocked down on Cameron and Fish roads and McDonald Drive. Street signs were also uprooted in the Useless Bay Colony.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or jvanderford@whidbeynews