Children Are Vandalizing Maywood Park District Renovations, Officials Say

Saturday, August 4, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: A photo taken by park district officials of a group of unidentified young people who officials say have been vandalizing Maywood parks. | VFP 

The Maywood Park District’s central area grounds recently received a $500,000 renovation and the historic building at 809 Madison St., which anchors the central area, is undergoing a $1.8 million renovation project, but all of these improvements face a threat — a group of teens and pre-teens who have been vandalizing the park in recent months, park district officials said last week. 

Since April, records show, park district officials have filed at least nine reports with the Maywood Police Department. Most of them have been for criminal theft of property and burglary to motor vehicles. 

Park district officials, including Maywood Park District Executive Director Lonette Hall, Park District Board of Commissioners President Dawn Rone and Luis Leon, the district’s maintenance director, all said that they’ve witnessed the young people carry out many of the acts of vandalism. They even showed photos and video footage of the young people in action.

The young people, officials said, have been daily mainstays at the park since officials broke ground on the 809 Madison building in April. The kids usually play basketball or hang out during the day. The most extensive vandalism seems to happen after park district employees leave work to go home, they said.

The children, the officials allege, have broken into the 809 building, broken out multiple windows of the building, broken into a park district-owned van parked on the new basketball court, sprayed graffiti onto the walls of park district facilities, set firecrackers off in grass and on the court, and climbed onto a nearby construction genie, stealing the key.

“Two days ago, a gentlemen with the contractor talked to the kids in the neighborhood and said, ‘If anybody can find that key for me I’ll give them $20 and a pizza,’” Hall said. “The kids left and came back with the key.”

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The window of a park district van that officials say was broken into by a rogue band of adolescents. | VFP 

The vandalism has put officials in a bind. They don’t want the kids arrested, but they also want to protect the community’s investment.

“We like to have kids in the park but what are we supposed to do to protect our property because they’re consistently damaging it?” said Rone, adding that Maywood police officers, including the chief, have been out multiple times to speak with the young people — to no avail.

Hall said that she’s been forced to hire additional security at the park, which she estimated will cost around $300 a day. That cost doesn’t include the price of installing new security cameras, which park district officials said the kids broke with two-by-fours.

“I’ve never seen this before,” said Leon. “I’ve never seen a park get destroyed on purpose. I live in Chicago.”

Leon said that, in addition to vandalism, he suspects the young people are also engaging in “adult acts” on park district grounds.

“A little kid saw that and he was asking me, ‘What is that? What were they doing?’” he said. “I didn’t give him an explanation, because I wasn’t the person to give him an explanation.”

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Luis Leon, the maintenance director for the park district, shows signs of a break-in at the 809 building officials say was committed by a mysterious group of young people. | VFP 

That function, Leon indicated, falls to their parents, who, he added, are nowhere to be found.

“Where are those parents and why are they not here? What’s happening? You want your kids to come to the park without having to think about other kids being reckless,” Leon said. “But these kids doing this stuff are still kids. They only want attention.”

Officials said that that they believe there are roughly two dozen kids in the group who appear to range in age from no older than nine to no older than 15.

They said that they’ve asked the children repeatedly for their names and addresses, but still haven’t been able to positively identify the young people. They suspect, they said, that some are not from Maywood. Hall said that she doesn’t suspect that any of the kids are in gangs.

The park district officials said that they’ve also tried having conversations with the young people, but those get nowhere. Hall said that it’s as if the adults and kids speak different languages.

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A part of the park district’s central area district where officials said that a group of young people broke out two windows and sprayed graffiti. | VFP 

Rone said that she can predict what many people may be thinking about the situation. If, the thinking goes, the park district only had more programming the young people wouldn’t be drawn to vandalism. None of the kids, she said, are involved in the park district’s summer camp, which currently hosts around 38 young people.

“How are we going to have programs for them if you have to have parents come in and sign them up?” she said.

“This is also the end of the summer session,” Hall added. “Our summer camp is winding down. Typically, with most park districts, you have a couple of weeks of down time. So, we’re winding down with our summer activities and everybody is getting revved up for back-to-school activities.”

Besides, there are many community programs beyond what the park district offers and “those kids aren’t in those programs, either,” Hall said. “There’s a difference between parks and recreation,” she said, “and social services.”

In the meantime, park district officials said, they’re interested in any positive ideas that caring adults have for getting through to the children. To reach district officials, call (708) 344-4740. VFP 

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9 thoughts on “Children Are Vandalizing Maywood Park District Renovations, Officials Say”

  1. Why not arrested this is the problem parents need to be made responsible. That building could be great if people respect. So you do nothing with these kids put up cameras

  2. NEED TO FIND PROGRAMS TO KEEP THESE KIDS OCCUPIED AND TEACH THEM VALUES. MY HUSBAND AND I ARE RENOVATING A PROPERTY NEARBY AND THEY HAVE BEEN VERY RESPECTFUL. WE HAVE OFFERED THEM BOOKS TO READ AND TALK TO THEM WHEN THEY COME AROUND.
    JUST LIKE ANY OTHER COMMUNITY TEENS NEED SOMETHING TO DO TO STAY AWAY FROM TROUBLE.

    1. They dont want to be in activities. Within the Proviso township there are plenty of programs…. THEY DONT SIGN UP! Arrest them and have an adult be accountable for the actions of the child. This is a problem the starts within the home.

  3. As I finished reading this article, my mind and thoughts have been bothering me these past a couple of days, when I first read the post. I don’t know who to blame. Do I blame the parents for not disciplining and raising their children with morals and values? Do I blame the commUNITY of the village of Maywood for not properly investing in after school programs, activities, and small businesses to give every child and adults the opportunity and tools to better themselves?

    Here is a comment that I just can’t accept. “They don’t want the kids arrested, but they also want to protect the community’s investment. “We like to have kids in the park but what are we supposed to do to protect our property because they’re consistently damaging it?” Then, you should definitely call the Maywood police department and put a stand and say “enough is enough.” If you do wrong, we’re going to turn you over into the police. That’s just common sense! The residents of Maywood needs to work together as a commUNITY to take a stand and say “we’re going to patrol our own streets” and not be intimidated by this foolishness anymore.

    I do want to type and say that the village of Maywood and residents…you must expect more of yourselves. You can’t accept this type of behavior, normalcy, and “status quo.” Once you guys do this…you’re not going to move forward as a village. I don’t know want type of magic power to persuade Maywood to progress. You all know and deserve better.

  4. “They don’t want the kids arrested, but they also want to protect the community’s investment.”
    They should do both. The situation is going beyond petty vandalism.

  5. Last week I was on 5th stopped at Washington. A group of teens who are participating in the youth employment were coming down 5th in their little yellow safety vests, playing around, tussling with each other, the boys harassing the girls and vica versa, and I had my car window down and I heard one of them say “I’m bored…let’s go break some windows.” I have never seen any of these kids working. They’re all fooling around. Why are my tax dollars paying for this?

    Last night I was on Washington, stopped at 4th, and a gang of boys was on 4th making a ruckus in front of a house…a few minutes after arriving home, I heard a police siren nearby… I hope the police were heading over.

    Now the park district buildings and vehicles are being vandalized. And there is video of the perpetrators! And park district employees KNOW who they are but won’t turn them in! Heck, people around here wouldn’t turn in someone who they know committed murder

    So the question: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH MAYWOOD? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THE POLICE, THE VILLAGE ADMINISTRATION AND THE PARENTS OF THESE SO-CALLED CHILDREN?

    These are not kids… they are juvenile delinquents and anyone who refused to turn them in or if the police won’t arrest them, should be arrested for assisting the commission of a crime.

    All you well-meaning folks who post on this site are living in some other world. More programs and stuff for the kids to do will NOT turn them around. You are adding to the problem and are NOT part of the solution.

    There are many Maywood residents who truly care about Maywood, and who want to see these types of behaviors and the people who do these things stop or leave the VIllage. But so many people don’t have a sense of shame, don’t have morals, and lie and yet still call themselves dedicated Christians! Not my idea of Christianity! The same thing happens with Village administration. They promise to do things, change things, help residents, enforce ordinances, look into complaints, no response from police when you report an issue, and I truly don’t think they have any intention of doing anything. THAT IS LYING! Professed good Christians LYING through their teeth!

    So, folks, think about how we can change the culture of Maywood and not continuing to put band-aids on the cuts and wounds. How do we get people to start caring?

  6. Just think about what these kids might be doing in a few years if they keep up that behavior….just look what went on in Chicago last weekend if you want a preview!
    If they don’t want to talk now or be constructive, put them in jail until they call their parents…then see what happens. If their parents are no help or combative, perhaps they need to find another place to live? I believe the village has some tools hat include crime free housing. The town is finally coming around and we don’t need this type of crap going on now

  7. If you have unwavering proof of the kids who did the vandalizing, hold their parents responsible. Add up the cost of the damage and pass the cost on to the parents. I’m feed up with compromising and making excuses for these kids. The threat of my mothers wrath along stopped me, but that says a lot about who are raising these kids.

  8. Reading all these post from this website…I highly recommend that everyone that lives in the village of Maywood, come to the next village hall meeting. Knock on your neighbors and friends’ doors and spread the word about this. This is totally unacceptable and can’t be “normal.” Like I said in the last post…Maywood deserves better and expect more of yourselves.

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