New Haven’s Moser Park restrooms vandalized

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Vandals struck Moser Park in New Haven at least once on Aug. 18, causing damage that left the restrooms closed for about 24 hours.

As of noon Monday, officials did not have an estimate of damage to the parks restrooms. The New Haven Police Department was working to identify suspects from park video.

The park at 601 Main St. west of downtown is the home of the nature center that hosts hands-on educational programs during the summer. The park also is a trailhead for paths that link New Haven to Fort Wayne and other communities. The heavily wooded, low-lying park also includes a quarter-mile paved trail and several natural trails, a pavilion, a pond, ball diamonds and a basketball court. Mike Clendenen, superintendent of the New Haven-Adams Township & Recreation Department, said soon after the incident that the restrooms will be repaired and would remain open. “This is our trailhead. We get a lot of people from other parks and other parts of the county and they count on having things like this available. So we’ll continue,” he said. He had no estimate on when the restrooms might be reopened.

New Haven Chief of Police Jeffrey J. McCracken said no arrests had been made as of early Monday afternoon. He confirmed that detectives had obtained park video. “Because we believe we know who it is we are not even releasing the video right now,” McCracken said. Clendenen said the vandalism might have happened in two instances.”

I got the call about 5:30 that the Moser Park restroom was on fire and the fire department had been dispatched,” he said. “But it was a firework that had filled it with smoke and once they got it opened up they realized that wasn’t the case.”

He said a soap dispenser was damaged and the firework left burn marks on the floors.” Our maintenance staff had just repainted those floors and got them opened up Thursday or Friday,” Clendenen said. He said the maintenance department is short-staffed, adding that many maintenance departments face similar shortages. “We have a backlog of things to do and that pushes back some other jobs,” he said.That task was completed by late Monday.”We don’t put mirrors in restrooms anymore just for this reason,” he said.Clendenen said someone tried to break into the Pepsi machine, the second attempt this month. He said the vendor was asked to remove the machine. He said a surveillance camera will be replaced. That’s $600 or $700 that could have been spent on something else, he said, describing the vandalism as infuriating.”It isn’t just New Haven. This goes on all over,” Clendenen said. “The various parks agencies talk a lot and this unfortunately is how it is today.”