Coffs Harbour Council has said senseless vandalism of Richardson Park in Sawtell has left local sports clubs reeling and they are “counting the cost of repairing the playing fields”.
“Over the long weekend, vandals forced their way into the ground and then used a vehicle to totally destroy the playing surface,” council’s Section Leader for Stadium and Major Events, said Daniel Heather said.
Joining in on the lament is Sawtell/Toormina AFL president Alex Pearson.
“We are very angry and upset at the repeated destruction and vandalism to the playing surface at Richardson Park over the long weekend,” Alex said.
“We are somewhat fortunate that we have an away game this weekend. However the damage to the playing surface affects our home games in the following weeks and will most definitely affect our ability to train.
“These actions by reckless individuals show a lack of respect, not only to the Sawtell/ Toormina AFL club, but to all Sawtell sporting groups that use Richardson Park and the local community that use the ground for recreational activities.“
Sawtell Cricket Club president, Rod Buckle said his members were also very disappointed.
“The fact they had to take the effort to remove a fence to do it and then to come back and do it again makes it even less understandable,” Mr Buckle said.
“I am sure these people would know someone they have affected in either the cricket club or the local AFL club. The fact they are old enough to hold a licence and still have the lack of judgement to think this would be a good idea in a small community beggar’s belief.
“They seem to think these are victimless crimes, but they affect more than just the clubs. It affects the community, the players, the supporters, the sponsors and all the volunteers that put time into making what are great local clubs.”
Council is urging any residents who witnessed the damage to the Park to report it to police.
“What people don’t realise is that this sort of reckless behaviour causes more than just damage to the grass,” Mr Heather said.
“The fields at Richardson Park now require significant remediation work, which is ultimately paid for by the community. It takes resources off other community projects and, most significantly, the damage leaves local sports and other users - including local schools – without grounds.”
“Vandalism across the Coffs Coast, particularly at public sport facilities, is a problem and council is grateful for the support of the local Police command in helping tackle and deal with this behaviour.”
Anyone that witnesses vandalism should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, Coffs Harbour Police Station on 6652 0299 or 131 444 (after hours).