An intentionally-set fire caused damage to a public swimming pool in Wichita, and city leaders are voicing frustration over continued acts of vandalism at pools and parks across the city.
The fire broke out around 12:30 a.m. at Aley Pool in the 1800 block of South Seneca. Wichita Park and Recreation Director Troy Houtman said an accelerant was used to set about 30 chairs on fire, and that spread to six sunshades that put out a large flame. Houtman said there was a quick response from the Wichita Fire Department and the fire was put out quickly. He said there was no damage to the main building. Houtman said the vandals used a grinder to get through a locked gate. The fire caused an estimated $45,000 in damage and the pool is expected to be closed for a couple of days.
Houtman said officials are frustrated with continued vandalism at parks and pools around the city. He said there has been “tagging,” graffiti, copper thefts and damage to splash pads and pools. He said there was damage to Aley Pool last year and there are plans for a security camera to be installed.
City Council Member Jeff Blubaugh said it’s disheartening to have this vandalism only two days into the pool season. He said the city spent $1.8 million on renovations to Aley Park and last year there was over $160,000 in vandalism. He is urging the neighborhood to get involved and call 911 or Crime Stoppers if they see unusual activity. He said this is “nothing more than just pure destruction to our neighborhoods and our quality of life.”
[ photo: City of Wichita – Facebook ]