by Matt Rosenberg November 11th, 2011
Frustrated by years of continuing vandalism in the parks and natural areas it operates, King County has quietly announced it is seeking bids for surveillance cameras to watch over some of those facilities. Next Thursday November 17 is the revised deadline for formal responses to a request for bids to provide, install and train personnel in the operation of four new surveillance cameras per year for the next five years, at an estimated annual cost of about $28,000. Although the original bid request didn’t specify where the cameras would be used or what for, potential bidders wondered, and so in an addendum the County specified that “the security camera systems will be used primarily to monitor various King County Parks facilities to prevent theft and vandalism.”
Theft and vandalism in King County parks have been persistent issues in recent years, at times openly frustrating county officials.
In March of 2009, vandalism one week at Tolt-MacDonald Park near Carnation to yurts, a restroom, signposts, road barricades and traffic cones, and theft of two carts, prompted the issuance of a press release in which then-King County Executive Ron Sims stated, “This sort of senseless vandalism is just incomprehensible. We must now spend our limited resources on repairing the damage and replacing the stolen items, which takes funding away from other projects.”
In January 2010, the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber reported on vandalism and dumping at the county’s Island Center Forest and two arson attempts, one on Christmas Day, at the county’s Dockton Park.
In July of 2006, the county shut Flaming Geyser Natural Area south of Black Diamond, as a massive clean-up was being completed following a large alcohol-fueled party there.
The year prior, the Seattle Times reported of vandalism at King County Parks including, “Soda…pulled out of vending machines with a crowbar near Duvall,” “Porcelain toilets…shattered outside Kirkland,” and “Japanese maple trees…ripped from the ground in Redmond.”
Efforts to enlist volunteers to patrol county parks to help prevent and report vandalism and theft (to parks officials at 206-296-4452) are a long-standing part of the response strategy. And it appears that will still be necessary. Twenty cameras would be installed over five years under the new spending revealed in the request for bids. But the county’s Parks and Recreation Division operates 180 parks and 130 miles of trails, while overseeing more than 25,000 acres of open lands.
Meanwhile, county and regional parks support groups that earlier contributed stewardship for King County parks are no longer active. Friends of King County Parks, born in 2002, developed into an organization with a broader geographic focus called the Northwest Parks Foundation, according to founder Richard Dill of Redmond. However, according to its Web site, the Northwest Parks Foundation is ceasing operations. A number of “friends of” groups still are active in King County, focusing on individual parks in the system.
RELATED: “Polishing The Jewel of Edith Moulton Park,” Barbara Ramey, Kirkland Views, June 22, 2011