Vandalism mars Linear Park |

Vandalism mars Linear Park

During the past few weeks, 14 street lights on the nearly completed Linear Park project along U.S. Highway 50 have been either completely or partly destroyed.

There are no suspects, according to the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, but the vandalism is happening just shortly before the project, which stretches between Ski Run Marina and Stateline Shell, is to be finished.

Since the contractor is still completing the job, the city of South Lake Tahoe is not responsible for paying the repair bill. The contractor is.

At this point, with 14 of the 38 lights damaged, the repair work totals around $800, said Dave Galicia, general partner of GB Construction.

“It’s so disheartening to put in such a high-quality improvement, then have a few people, or one person, feel the need to destroy it,” said city Redevelopment Manager Jaye Von Klug. “It’s definitely a cause for concern in terms of future investment into Park Avenue and Ski Run Marina.”

Galicia said lately the vandalism has been occurring on a nightly basis. During the July fourth weekend, some of the company’s construction equipment was vandalized.

“We are very disappointed and discouraged,” Galicia said. “We’ve put a lot of effort and time into this project. It adds so much to the beauty of Lake Tahoe. We all live here and take pride in what we do. It seems so frustrating.”

Despite this damage, and the history of repeated vandalism at the skateboard facility at Bijou Community Park, police and fire chief Brad Bennett said he does not consider vandalism a major problem in South Lake Tahoe.

“We certainly have problems with it from time to time, and a few areas of concentration, but I would not consider it a big problem here,” Bennett said.

According to Von Klug, the low, expensive lights were selected for the project because they do not shine into the windows of Tahoe Meadows homes, which stand behind the wrought iron fence, among the trees. Tall lights, out of reach of prospective vandals, would have disturbed residents of the private property, she said.

“These lights are fairly low maintenance, but you can destroy anything if you really want to.” Von Klug said. “These were expensive improvements. We could have done it less expensively, but we are trying to establish a very high standard of urban design. If this keeps up, it will definitely influence future urban design choices.”

Von Klug said that if the vandals continue, the lights will have to be replaced with off-the-shelf lights which the city could stockpile and replace easily.

Completion of the project, which is being funded by California Tahoe Conservancy grants, has already been delayed by several months. Most recently, delays were caused by newly discovered underground power lines and the need to repaint the fence after the original paint failed to bond correctly.

Von Klug asked that any information about the vandalism be reported to the police department at (530) 542-6100.

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