Friday, June 21, 2024

Baw Baw council appalled by park vandalism

Vandals have torn through Civic Park in Warragul causing significant damage to trees, vegetation, and fencing, with Baw Baw Shire Council saying it will take months to complete the required repairs.

In a statement, Council revealed the extent of the damage, saying trees had been cut down with handsaws, with the vegetation either distributed throughout the gardens or pulled back across unofficial bike tracks created by the vandals.

“Some of the trees torn down were nearly 20 years old and included protected native species,” the Council said.

“Other trees have been damaged by brute force through the breaking of branch unions and main branches, in some cases meaning that the trees have been weakened to the point of failure and are now a community risk.”

Council says the trees pose a danger to the community, meaning it has no choice but to remove four to five of the larger, much-loved canopy trees that help make Civic Park the community place of pride that it is.

Mayor, Annemarie McCabe expressed her utter disappointment at the senseless vandalism.

“I would hope to think that the people causing this damage are unaware of the impact of their actions,” Mayor McCabe said.

“Not only will this come at a financial cost to Council, but it will also take up significant officer time as Council embarks on the restoration process, and unfortunately the reality is, some of what has been damaged and taken just can’t be restored to how it was.

“As Mayor and a local resident of Baw Baw I know how much enjoyment our community get from attending this park,” she said.

Council is also in the process of investigating the removal and destruction of a native tree ferns at Civic Park. If these fall under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, this could result in substantial fines and penalties, it said.

“Dry stone retaining walls have also been pulled apart and used as the bases for bike jumps across the site. Urban maintenance teams will need to rebuild these walls to maintain the stability along the western slope of the garden where the damage has been caused,” Council said.

“I implore the people ruining our facilities and property to rethink their actions and consider the people it is affecting,” said Mayor McCabe.

“Our local sporting clubs are run by hardworking and tireless volunteers, and when they turn up to see their clubs damaged, they are forced to feel that their work is all for nothing.

“Our volunteers are the fabric of our community, and I would like to offer my personal apologies to you, that people are damaging the facilities and clubs you work so hard to look after.”

The vandalism has been reported to Victoria Police.

If you witness or are aware of an act of vandalism, Council urges you to contact the Victoria Police, Police Assistance Line (PAL) on 131 444, or you can reach Council on 5624 2411. You can also report the problem via the Snap Send Solve app.

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