WORTHINGTON — City staff along with Worthington City Council members are asking the public to keep their eyes out for individuals vandalizing municipal property after a recent wave of such activity around the community.

Worthington City Council member Chad Cummings, who ran Monday evening’s council meeting in Mayor Mike Kuhle’s absence, brought up recent vandalism during the public works component of the agenda. Public Works Director Todd Wietzema subsequently addressed the matter.

“Our main issues have been … people not taking care of our parks by littering and throwing trash,” Wietzema said. “The big thing is, people have been doing general vandalism — throwing rocks, pulling limbs off trees, spraying branches. … There have been a lot of issues at Centennial Park.”

Wietzema elaborated on vandalism at Centennial Park, home to multiple recent facilities improvements as a result of the city’s half-cent local option sales tax. He said rocks were thrown against the doors of the rest rooms, damage was done inside bathrooms that included tearing off shower curtains and placing them in toilets, and graffiti.

“It’s just to destroy stuff,” Wietzema added.

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Outdoor cameras have now been installed in Centennial Park in an attempt to catch perpetrators, he said, and there has been “some in-person talking to people” about damage. Wietzema said the situation was better in the past week, but encouraged local park-goers to be vigilant.

“If anybody sees somebody vandalizing something, writing on something, call the police department, call me, do whatever you need to do — take a picture,” Wietzema said. “I don’t like to see people get into trouble, but we can’t let people treat our amenities like this. It’s unacceptable.”

Councilman Chris Kielblock noted later in the meeting that the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee also spent a large portion of its most recent meeting discussing vandalism.

Among official council business Monday, plans and specifications for this year’s bituminous overlays project were unanimously approved. The project includes surfacing Cherrywood Lane and Sterling Avenue, as well as multiple street overlays that include: 11th Street from Seventh Avenue to Eighth Avenue (cost of $112,640); 14th Street from Second Avenue to Fifth Avenue ($171,020); and Milton Avenue from Clary Street to First Avenue ($32,625),.

Other contract maintenance work includes seal coating along East Avenue, Knollwood Drive and Park Avenue ($30,555), and concrete pavement work on McMillan Street near Oxford Street ($45,000). Concrete restoration with bituminous overlay pavement replacement will also take place on a 235-foot length of Clary Street near Fredrick Avenue, to be restored as part of a 2019 water main reconstruction project. The project cost for this work, estimated at $61,100, will be from the city’s Water Fund.

The council also approved plans and authorized the advertisement for bids for Ryan’s Road improvements that include removal and replacement of the upper layer of bituminous surfacing that was placed in 1998 and 1999. The plans call for removal of 2 inches of the surface by milling and placement of an overlay of equal depth.

The total estimated project cost, including engineering and contingencies, is $564,940. All costs are eligible for and proposed to be financed from Municipal State Aid Street funds. Bids are to be received July 28 and considered during a special council meeting at noon Aug. 2.

In other business, the council unanimously approved:

  • The purchase of two new Graco Lazerline 3900 paint machines for use by city Public Works staff. The two existing machines were scheduled to be replaced in 2021, but it was decided last fall to delay the purchases to 2024. However, Wietzema said “unusual maintenance issues” arose with one of the two machines, and it would be better to purchase new than put money into an old machine. Price of the new paint machines will be $5,814 each; Wietzema said their purchase will have no effect on the 2021 budget.

  • The placement of three new park benches. A bench along Centennial trail in memory of Ron and June Hubbard will be placed by Gaylen Hubbard; two benches at the Chautauqua Park Bandshell will be placed by Ransford Chapter #43 Order of the Eastern Star.

  • A professional services agreement with Fusion Learning Partners to offer a “Basics of Planning and Zoning” training to city staff, members of the Worthington Planning Commission and council members. Up to $2,000 in community development funds was authorized for the training and food for attendees

  • The 2020 comprehensive annual financial report as presented by Ellen Hoefker of Drealan, Kvilhaug, Hoefker & Co., P.A. “The city is looking in strong and good financial shape right now (as of December 2020),” Hoefker said.