This must stop!

After tremendous individual effort by Travis Bowman, and with touching community support as well, Hemlock Park recently enjoyed an addition that made the enjoyment of park facilities more inclusive and fun for a too-often under-served portion of our population.

Bowman and helpers created a wheelchair-accessible swing at no expense to the city. The new park element allowed people who might never expect to swing, because of some disability or the other, access to the same thrill as any child or adult visiting a playground.

Young people (and old!) in wheelchairs could imagine themselves becoming orbiting astronauts and high-flying acrobats as does any other child settling in for a “Push me higher” period of excitement and adventure on a swing set.

The swing was — and is — a tremendous addition to the park, and a creative outreach to the extended community.

That is, … until vandals took it upon themselves to destroy, or at least seriously damage the less-than-one-week-old swing.

Sometime before last Sunday morning, someone or some group of someones decided the swing was too good to be true and vandalized it to a point of making it at least temporarily useless.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only vandalism having taken place in Hemlock Park — simply the most recent.

Lighting elements have been busted along the walkways and bridges.

Benches, tables and railings have been defaced.

The remnants of romantic trysts (read: condoms) have been disposed of in the Playscape where little children run and frolic.

And more, … and more, … and more, …

It simply must stop before Hemlock Park becomes a no-man’s land for the yahoos and vandals.

As a community, we simply cannot allow the lowlifes who behave with such impunity in our community parks to rule the day — or the night.

And it isn’t simply the job of law enforcement. Taking back our parks and public places is the duty and responsibility of each and every one of us.

We need to stop being silent and become more actively observant.

We encourage every area resident who sees vandalism, or the potential for vandalism taking place to call law enforcement and not remain disattached of the situation.

Let us all work together to make Big Rapids a more warm and embracing community.

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