Board reaffirms manager’s role in dealing with vandalism

MARQUETTE — The Marquette Township Board on Tuesday approved a measure aimed at curbing vandalism on township property.

Trustees voted unanimously to reaffirm the township manager’s authority to recoup the full cost of vandalism on township property.

The motion stemmed from several incidents over the last year. Most of those were at Lions Field, with some involving minors, Township Manager Randy Girard said.

“The ability to do this was already in my job description,” Girard told the board. “The manager is responsible for, particularly in one paragraph, is responsible for all facilities and maintenance of those facilities within the township boundaries, which would include recovery for vandalism.”

The incidents included a person on a four-wheeler tearing up Lions Field after it had been seeded, an instance where the door frame of one of the restrooms was damaged due to two minors “messing around” and a couple of individuals who could not be identified, who tore the sink off of the wall of the women’s restroom, Girard said.

Trustee Dave Wiegand, who helped with repairs after two minors vandalized the ceiling of a dugout at Lions Field, said township residents should not shoulder the cost of vandalism.

“It didn’t cost a lot of money, but from my perspective the residents paid for those facilities,” Wiegand said. “The residents should not be expected to foot the bill for kids that are going to go in there and horse around and cause damage. That falls back to their parents and they should pick up that bill for those damages. It’s simply a matter of if they go in there and they cause damage and can be identified, the responsible party for whoever those kids are should ante up and pay the bill. We shouldn’t put a couple hundred dollars back on the residents to come up with that money again.”

Under state statute, municipalities and other entities have the legal right to recover up to $2,500 in a case of vandalism, Township Attorney Roger Zappa said.

“So the manager, or whoever the board would designate, has the authority to recover from the parents up to a cap of $2,500. Now, having said that, if the perpetrator is not a minor, or is emancipated, the perpetrator himself or herself is going to be held responsible. But in terms of the parents (being held) liable, it will have to be within the confines of existing law and it would have to be for malicious or willful destruction of property,” Zappa said. “That’s state law, and if they don’t voluntarily pay it by sending a letter, then you have to sue them.”

Girard said cameras have been installed at strategic places in the parks to catch people who vandalize township property.

The best outcome would be to have vandalism stop altogether, he said. The next best thing would be to have the incidents reported.

“It’s not that we want to charge people,” Girard said. “There is a cost to build the amenity, whatever it may be, a cost to maintain it, and then a cost to repair it when it gets damaged. If you see someone doing something they shouldn’t, please report it.”

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.