LAKE PLACID — The Devane Park Gazebo serves as a centerpiece for the park and a landmark for the town, but it has also been a target for vandalism.
The structure, which was renovated along with the park last year, has been closed to the public with chains across each entrance and signs stating it is closed.
Town Administrator Phil Williams said Friday he closed it in March after a 15-day period of “escalating damage.”
“After the second onslaught of damage that we noticed we didn’t have any choice,” but to close the gazebo, he said. It took a while, until about a month ago, to get the infrastructure in place to install security cameras.
Police Chief James Fansler said Friday that the vandalism started just a few months after the gazebo was renovated.
Kids got up there and started writing on it and then things were damaged and some of the railings were broken, he said.
The improvements to the gazebo brought the hope of drawing special events to it, Fansler said, but, nobody is going to want to use something that has all kinds of graffiti written on it and panels missing.
Williams would like to open it up and put benches inside and offer WiFi so kids could use their laptop computers to do their homework.
“That would be a really nice concept to do,” he said. “It would be almost like going to Starbucks.” But, Williams believes it has to be closed to remain protected and stay as clean as possible.
“Recognizing that it is a controversial issue I am going to let the town council give me some direction on it,” he said.
The gazebo issue has been placed on the agenda of Monday’s town council meeting.
The council meeting’s online agenda shows photos of the damage and profanity written on the gazebo.
Williams noted on the agenda that Chamber of Commerce Director Ken LeBlanc has “expressed strongly” that he feels the gazebo should be opened.
There has been no vandalism since closing the gazebo other than the lights being turned on and left on overnight by unknown parties, Williams said. There has been trash left on the steps of the gazebo.
Greater Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Eileen May said it’s the town council’s decision, but she informed Williams that the gazebo issue is on the agenda for the chamber board meeting on May 22.
“We have heard concerns,” she said. “It came up at our last board meeting. One of our directors was concerned and asked whether or not it was going to open or remain closed.”