WESTFIELD – Westfield Police are investigating what appears to be malicious vandalism at Stanley Park.
Stanley Park Managing Director Robert McKean said the damage was discovered the morning of May 9 and was extensive.
“It was a real mess. It’s everywhere,” he said. “Whoever did this was . . . angry.”
Both gazebos in the rose garden were damaged. McKean said the spindles were kicked out from the railings. Planters and benches were overturned throughout the park and the automated external defibrillator was vandalized.
“They pulled the AED down, luckily it wasn’t in the box,” McKean said.
McKean said fires were set in the park earlier last week, either the night of May 6 or morning of May 7.
“There were fires in the pits where people have barbecues and they tried to start one in the sanctuary,” he said.
McKean and park staff were still assessing damage Monday morning and did not have a financial estimate. McKean said Skip’s Outdoor Accents has offered to repair the gazebos and he has received offers to start online donation collections.
McKean said the largest expense will be increasing park security systems.
‘We are looking into more cameras and more up-to-date security cameras,” he said. “That will be expensive.”
McKean said the additional security cameras would not only help to identify future vandals but will help keep park visitors safe.
McKean said the outpouring from the community has been overwhelming.
“We received a lot of offers from volunteers asking to help any way they can,” McKean said, noting that is what is special about the community and its connection to Stanley Park.
“This is your park, we’re just maintaining it for you,” McKean said.
Stanley Park gates remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic, however visitors can enter on foot. McKean said the park has plans in place for its reopening once Gov. Charlie Baker lifts orders to keep parks closed.
“We will have one entrance and exit with limited parking and there will be limited hours for visitors with vehicles,” McKean said.
McKean said the Westfield Police responded quickly and is still investigating.
“The Westfield Detective Bureau has been outstanding,” he said.
Anyone with information on the recent vandalism should contact the Westfield Detective Bureau at 413-562=5411.