Last week, Elaine Ott-Rocheford, executive director of the Vashon Park District, updated commissioners about the investigation of vandalism at Agren field, only saying that the King County Sheriff’s Office detective working on the case has made progress but that she could not provide further information.
“As you can imagine, there are lots of pieces with this situation,” she said at the Jan. 14 board meeting — the first of the new year — adding that she has spoken with the detective numerous times, including as recently as that afternoon. “All I can really say at this point is [the investigation] is still ongoing.”
Ott-Rocheford noted that the detective “is positive” about leads pertaining to the case and is closing in on those responsible.
“He’s getting close to wrapping things up,” she said, “and it just can’t be out in the public at this point about the progress of this investigation.”
After press time, Ott-Rocheford and Maintenance Director Jason Acosta met with the original contractor, project manager and engineer who helped revitalize the field last year thanks to a $250,000 King County Youth and Amateur Sports grant in order to estimate the final cost of the damage and determine the best repair option. She added that the cost of repairing the field will be entirely covered by the district’s insurance provider.
In light of the vandalism at Agren, the district received offers from islanders who expressed they would like to contribute and help establish a reward for information, according to Ott-Rocheford. Commissioners were presented with a draft crime reward policy for witnesses of crime at park properties, but it was discouraged by the detective investigating the vandalism at Agren and rejected by commissioners. Per the policy, the district would have been able to accept donations from community members who wished to fund a reward. District funds would not have been budgeted for reward purposes.
Meanwhile, commissioners began a discussion about improving security at district facilities considered significant assets, including the purchase of security cameras to be installed at Agren, Vashon Elementary School Fields (VES), Point Robinson, Fern Cove and potentially Inspiration Point to cut down on illegal dumping there.
Ott-Rocheford added that stronger gates at Agren, VES Fields and Burton Adventure Recreation Park will likely be necessary, though coming at a steep cost for the district — potentially between $3,000 to $5,000 each.
Late last month, vandals at Agren cut the chain on the gate blocking access to the field and broke it before driving a vehicle across the new sod that was supposed to be ready for play later this year. The cost of the damage caused to the field by the vandalism could run as high as $50,000 to $100,000, which would warrant a felony malicious mischief charge for the destruction of public property.