Naperville Riverwalk sees recent uptick in vandalism

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The Naperville Riverwalk has seen an uptick in vandalism in recent weeks with a focus around Centennial Beach and the Millennium Carillon, according to Naperville Park District staff. Some situations, they say, are unique to the Riverwalk.

Benches thrown into the river

“The first big incident that we found was on Sunday morning, May 19th. Staff found two of our park benches in the river and it turns out that they were damaged beyond repair,” said Tiffani Picco, park operations manager for the riverwalk and north parks division. “They actually ripped the entire paver out of the ground that the bench was anchored to, so it took a lot of effort to get that bench into the river.”

That same morning, Picco said staff also found garbage cans knocked over with trash on the ground, manhole covers pulled out, and lower riverwalk wall capstones and plants in the river.

“On the morning of Tuesday, June 4th, it wasn’t a weekend this time, but we found another bench in the river, one that we had just replaced [for] the two that went into the river the first time. They also found a chair from the Paddleboat Quarry rental building in the river. That one wasn’t damaged, but the third bench was also damaged beyond repair,” said Picco.

There has also been more vandalism in the bathrooms. Picco said staff recently found toilet paper all over the stalls and soap over the floor in the Fredenhagen Park bathrooms.

The total cost in damages includes $1,000 for each bench plus the additional hours of staff time needed to clean up the messes and retrieve the objects from the river. Picco said there are currently no plans to replace the three benches.

More troublesome damages than usual

Park district officials say the uptick in vandalism began when the weather got nicer, and summer break kicked off. Though the Riverwalk sees an increase in vandalism every summer, officials say these incidents are more troublesome.

“The latest is a little extreme as far as the activity goes down here. When you talk about picking up benches that weigh this much and throwing them into the river, that’s atypical as far as the events that we have in and along the riverwalk,” said Steve Schindlbeck, Naperville Park District Park Police Chief.

As of Friday, no arrests or charges have been made for the incidents.

“Right now, it’s still an ongoing investigation. We have some information that we’re following up on, but we would welcome any other information that anybody might have,” said Schindlbeck.

Protecting the Naperville Riverwalk from vandalism

Officials say community members should report any information about the incidents to the Naperville Park District Police at (630)-601-0925.

To help prevent future incidents, officers will be on high alert when patrolling the riverwalk over the next few months. The Fredenhagen bathrooms have also been closing at 8:00 p.m. rather than 11:00 p.m., which staff say has worked to prevent vandalism at those bathrooms.

“I would just encourage people that if they see something, to say something and don’t ever think that they’re bothering us, don’t ever think that they’re bothering the city police,” said Schindlbeck.

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