A Cromwell Valley Park caretaker arrived to open the gates to the park Saturday morning when she discovered a nasty surprise: the entrance sign to the park had been destroyed, smashed down the middle into shards.
“We thought at first that a vehicle ran through the thing,” said R. Kirk Dreier, a senior naturalist and ranger. “Then we realized when we called police that it was vandalized.”
Baltimore County Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Peach said a police report taken Saturday morning noted muddy footprints on the pieces of the sign, “as if someone had kicked it down and then stepped on it.”
“It was just senseless that someone would want to vandalize the entrance sign for our little haven here,” said Mia Walsh, president of the Cromwell Valley Park Council, saying separately: “Why would someone or some people want to destroy something that gives so many people pleasure in our community?”
Dreier speculated that someone could have been angry about park regulations – they could have received a citation for an off-leash dog, for instance – but said it “seems unusual they would go and destroy the sign.”
The sign will be replaced by Baltimore County, which owns the park, Walsh said. Dreier estimated that the foam core sign costs between $8,000 and $10,000.
Walsh posted a photo of the destroyed sign on the park’s Facebook page and received what she described as an “outpouring of support.” More than 80 people had shared the post as of Monday.
The post had a link to donate to the park, saying donations would go to replacing the sign and other signage improvements for special events – a project Walsh said the park council had just discussed last week. The opportunity to get donations toward the project, she said, was a “silver lining.”
Since Saturday, she said the park has received more than $1,000 in donations from 38 community members, ranging from $5 to $100.
“It’s been very heartwarming,” Walsh said of the community’s support. “Especially during Thanksgiving, it puts everything into perspective.”