Community responds to acts of vandalism at Cranberry's Graham Park

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If there was a silver lining to the recent vandalism of Cranberry’s Graham Park, it was the heartwarming response of the community, said township officials.

“Everyone just jumped into action,’’ said Pete Geis, the township’s parks and recreation director. “Everyone” included the township’s public works department, representatives from the youth athletic groups that use the playing fields and the nonprofit Cranberry Township Community Chest, which voted to give $10,000 toward recovery.

Township police are investigating the vandalism, which occurred sometime between March 14 and March 17 at the park off of Rochester Road. The park has several fields, including the Miracle League field for handicapped children and adults, as well as the Dick’s Sporting Goods Sportsplex.

Damage was done to lighting fixtures, downspouts on several buildings and in one of the public restrooms. Garbage cans were overturned and an array of items were thrown in the Boy Scouts of America fishing pond. Even American flags were stolen.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact them at 724-776-5180, ext. 5.

Mr. Geis said the crime put the township in a crunch, with a 5-K race scheduled for the weekend after the vandals struck. “We had to get things turned around right away,” he said.

The single most costly act of vandalism was the destruction of light fixtures. “These were expensive fixtures. They have sensors. They’re commercial-grade, nice-looking, high-tech items. Alone, they could cost $10,000 to replace,” Mr. Geis said.

He speculated that youths are likely responsible for the incident. “It seemed to me, in my personal opinion, that it was the kind of mischievous damage that [is] done by kids. They didn’t think about the impact,” he said.

He described officials of the sports associations who use the park as “irate.” “Here we are trying to get these complexes ready for use in early April and this sets us back. That puts a damper on things,” Mr. Geis commented.

Gretchen Moran, representing the Community Chest, said a “cloud of melancholy” hung over the group’s March 19 board meeting as board members discussed the vandalism. The group ultimately decided to donate $10,000 to help with repairs. Mr. Geis said he’s not sure of the total loss but said it could be about $20,000.

He said his heart has been warmed by the donation and by the outpouring of concern from the community. “We stick together in Cranberry,” he said.

Karen Kane: or at 724-772-9180.

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