SIDNEY — The Sidney Water Park reopened Thursday after having to close Wednesday, July 14, due to vandalism during the early morning hours.
Wednesday, the city of Sidney’s Facebook page said, “Due to a break in and severe vandalism at the Sidney Water Park overnight, all swim lessons and the senior water aerobics classes are cancelled and the Park will (be) closed for swimming today, July 14. Every effort will be made to be able to open the facility tomorrow, July 15. Please check back for updates. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.”
Sidney Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier said the filter building was vandalized early Wednesday morning between 1 and 2 a.m. No locks or damage to entryways were found. City staff is uncertain exactly how the perpetrator(s) got into the building.
Whoever got into the pump house, Gaier said, dumped paint, used to touch-up the pool floor, and a great amount of stocked chemicals, used to balance the pool water, into the filter pit. The closed water park had been breached the two previous days, during early Monday and Tuesday mornings, also, but those break-ins were more of a nuisance of items thrown around, than any damage caused.
“That was the third night in a row that access had been gained to the building, and that last night was the worst one by far,” Gaier said. “Discharging fire extinguishers back there; playing with the fire extinguishers outside, and typically, they would throw pool toys in the filter pit. Nothing really serious; stuff we could clean out pretty easy. But Wednesday morning, that’s when the big mess (happened). They dumped paint in the filter pit (and) chemicals. So, we basically had to drain the filter pit, back-wash the filters and refill and adjust the chemistry and get it back in order. It was a mess, a big mess.”
City staff is trying to determine how the intruders gained entry, but have put some safeguards in place to ensure no unauthorized people could get in going forward. Gaier said they have video cameras on the areas where money is exchanged or consumable products are stored, but images near the filter building were too dark to make out.
“We have done some things to fix that (to prevent entry). We never thought we would have to guard a filter pit with chemicals in it,” Gaier said. “It just blows our mind why someone would want to go in and maliciously damage and cause vandalism to shut the pool down for the day.”
Word of the final clean up of the trash and paint off the building’s floor, walls and filter pit, and then the filtering and readjustment of pool water was completed by 6 p.m., Gaier said. Luckily, he said, the paint only floated on the top of the pit and did not filter through the water.
Thursday morning was quiet, he noted, with no notifications of any new issues at the pool.
City staff is still in the process of determining how much product was wasted and the total estimated cost of loss to the city, including man hours to clean up the mess and loss of revenue at the pool Wednesday. Gaier said the parks’ already short staff had to be reassigned to attend to the pool, and that took them away from other jobs they needed to be doing.
Sidney Police Detective Sgt. Rob Jameson said they do not have any suspects at this time and police are seeking help from the public about the case.
Gaier also called for help to bring those who are responsible accountable.
“If somebody knows what has happened here; who might be doing it, it would be great to be able to stop anything that might continue,” Gaier said. “We really would like to have somebody step up and let us know who did this so we can prosecute accordingly.”
The incident remains under investigating by Sidney Police. Anyone with any information about the vandalism is asked to contact the Sidney Police Department at 937-498-8777.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.