LAKE PLACID — After a lengthy discussion weighing public access versus security from vandalism, the town council wants to allow some public use of the Devane Park Gazebo.
Town Administrator Phil Williams closed the circular structure in mid March after a two-week period of increased vandalism.
At Monday’s town council meeting, Williams said he wants to take care of town property so it will look the best that it can.
He said there were 33 counts of vandalism at the gazebo.
Williams noted that cameras perform a security function, but they are not monitored 24 hours a day.
“During the time that we had the ‘no trespassing’ signs up there we had no vandalism,” he said.
Councilman Steve Bastardi supports keeping the gazebo closed.
Bastardi said he doesn’t believe the gazebo is a playground. It’s an asset of the town and should be used for major events.
A significant amount of tax money was used to create a park that could accommodate events, he said. Paying the park rental fee provides access to the gazebo.
“I can’t think of a practical general use for it,” Bastardi said. “I don’t think the public as a whole on any given day would need to assemble up there. I think it brings more trouble than the joy it provides.”
Councilwoman Arlene Tuck said she hates to see the gazebo vandalized.
She noted that in the past a youth group met there once a week and a girls dance group and a cheer leading group met there.
“I think it is something that belongs to the public and it should be open to the public,” Tuck said.
Councilman Ray Royce said the people who are committing the vandalism will not pay attention to the “no trespassing” signs.
He hoped the town could find a way to “strike a happy balance” and possibly have groups register to use the gazebo.
“I hope we can find a more tasteful way to say, ‘don’t use this’ without having a series of ‘no trespassing’ signs around it,” Royce said.
Mayor John Holbrook said he asked citizens who wanted the town to open the gazebo if they would be willing to pay for damages.
“If you want us on a monthly basis to spend $1,000 to fix the vandalism then fine I am willing to open it up,” he said. But the town has to do what it can to take care of town property.
“I don’t know what the easy answer is; I was hoping the cameras would take care of it,” Holbrook said. “But until we come up with a solution the one we’ve got right now seems to be working.”
Williams offered to open the gazebo for a “probationary period.”
Holbrook and Tuck agreed with Williams when he suggested allowing registered groups to use the gazebo at no charge.
Council also briefly discussed charging a nominal fee.
Holbrook said he would like some input from the public.