COLUMBUS, Neb. — Columbus Parks and Recreation says their park suffered vandalism in the form of graffiti on slides and shelters in Pawnee Park. Local authorities and city park officials are hoping to keep the city’s parks clean as the spring and summer season approaches.

Slides, pillars, and shelters were covered in graffiti after an act of vandalism took place at Pawnee Park East.

Capt. Charles Sherer said vandalism like this does happen but he was surprised at the timing of the act.

“We normally don’t start seeing graffiti in the parks until later in the year…later in April and May, that type of thing and throughout the summer," Sherer said. "This one happened to happen in February and so that’s a bit early for us to find those types of activities.”

According to the police records, there have been 15 incidences of vandalism in the past two years at Columbus parks.

For Columbus Parks and Recreations Director Betsy Eckhardt, seeing the parks sustain damage by the actions of criminals can be demoralizing.

“It can be disheartening because you want your community to take pride in the amenities that we have for them," Eckhardt said. "You would hope that they would help take care of those. Not just for themselves but for their children, for their neighbors, and for their friends.”

Eckhardt said cleaning up the graffiti takes up city time and resources and wants to encourage citizens in Columbus  to keep the parks clean.

In October, parks and recreation had to temporarily close down Sock Pond due to illegal dumping in the pond.

Since the vandalism was discovered, Eckhardt said it has been cleaned up and advises citizens who see any type of vandalism taking place to report it to the police.

Sherer said the department is currently investigating the previous incident and there is a pattern for a majority of these acts.

“Typically, they are young adolescents," Sherer said. "What drives them to this behavior? I don’t know…I don’t know what causes people to do senseless acts of destruction to equipment that the general public uses all the time.”

The city’s water park, Pawnee Plunge, is upgrading their security cameras and both Eckhardt and Sherer hope this helps deter any potential vandalism and keeps the community’s parks safe.