ORANGE PARK, Fla. – The Orange Park Athletic Association is hoping to find those responsible for vandalizing a Clay County park and covering it with spray paint.
OPAA, which is staffed solely by volunteers and community donations, is offering a $500 cash reward to anyone who turns in the vandals.
Mandi Herndon, the association president, also wants those responsible to volunteer at the park on Fromhart Street off Wells Road -- so they understand the value it holds to the community.
“There were some pretty nasty words written on buildings, smiley faces, hearts, supposed gang tagging kind of offensive stuff,” Herndon said.
Herndon posted photos of the graffiti on the association’s Facebook page, asking for help to identify the vandals.
“The park we spend so much time cleaning, renovating, and operating was the target of someone’s hateful behavior,” the post read.
The paint was on sidewalks, dugouts and the home-plate concession stand. Herndon said the vandals got into the field paint and other materials used to prepare for baseball games.
“We had a lot of people both within our organization and our community reach out to us immediately. We had people show up with pressure washers. They offered to help us with paint thinner,” Herndon said.
Herndon said what was left was temporarily painted over so the kids can finish the rest of baseball season. The park is home to generations of families, including the Buckmans.
“It’s disappointing to know this is a family establishment and seeing those offensive words and trying to explain to my kids what those are and I played ball here when I was a kid, so it’s sad to see that this is happening here in the neighborhood,” Paul Buckman said.
Orange Park Mayor Alan Watt called the vandalism disgusting. Watt said the community has really pulled together and as a result the town voted to put in security cameras in the park later this year.