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Cleveland Neighborhood beautification projects plagued by vandals and thieves

The Cleveland neighborhood’s gazebo has been the repeated target of vandals and thieves. The neighborhood is located between NW 23 and NW 30 and N Villa and May avenues. Photo by Jeanie Ruedy

Vandals and thieves have targeted the Cleveland neighborhood’s gazebo at NW 23 and for about three years, frustrating neighborhood association leaders who spent much effort to make it a gathering place and an aesthetic addition to their neighborhood.

Association vice president Dan Martin said there have been thousands of dollars in vandalized, stolen decorative items and plantings and flowers at the gazebo, which is maintained by neighborhood volunteers.

Some Martin attributes to malicious youth, but surprisingly, some is related to theft of evergreens which were carefully excavated to replant ting elsewhere.

In addition, it always seems to happen in the month of October, a tradition that is vexing. This past month, vandals stole evergreens worth about $500 that had been planted two to three years ago

They were removed with such surgical precision, it was evident someone intended to convert the theft into an asset at another location.

“These weren’t just kids, roaming around the neighborhood at night, looking for trouble, said the neighborhood association vice president said Martin. “These were taken for a purpose. I mean it’s not like you can take them to the pawn shop.”

A couple of years ago, there were some upscale fountains installed at the gazebo that were knocked over and broken by vandals.

“(The fountains) were valued somewhere in around of $2500,” Martin said. “We’re not giving them any more targets like that.”

There seems to be nothing off-limits to the perpetrators, said neighborhood association president Jeanie Ruedy.

“Someone also seems to enjoy playing with our lights in the top of the Gazebo,” she noted in a recent newsletter.

“You can jump and hit or grab them and they suddenly become a dangling spotlight on wires. This is the second light that has been broken. Another financial loss for us to bear.”

So far efforts to stop it have not worked.

“I’d love to catch them but it’s not as easy as you think,” Martin added. “I hope people will help keep an eye out to help us if they see anything suspicious.”

Despite their chagrin, the association held a chili cook-off one recent Sunday afternoon, so it is both a decorative feature and a social gathering place for friends and families. That’s part of what makes it such a personal violation.

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