Blackfoot’s Jensen Grove is a recreator’s dream and city leaders are asking the public to help keep it that way by putting an end to vandalism.
Mayor Mike Virtue said the brand new, $60,000 restroom was open just nine days before being damaged. Now, at 9 p.m. every day, the city is locking it up.
Jensen Grove is a centerpiece of the Blackfoot community and a staple of “home” for Chet Ruger.
“Back in the late 80s and 90s it was just a small swimming place,” said Ruger.
But a lot has changed since then. The Utah man now brings his kids to the lake surrounded by playgrounds, an amphitheatre and walking path, but also vandalism.
“Well, I think it’s sad for sure,” said Ruger.
Police said graffiti has been an ongoing problem at the skate park and older restrooms.
Virtue said on July 13, someone tore down a partition between urinals in the new bathrooms, among “other” activities.
“I would call them hygiene issues,” said Virtue.
Virtue said he’d rather not go into detail.
Picking up garbage for a fundraiser project, Blackfoot resident Stacey Bird couldn’t wrap her head around why anyone would trash the area.
“I don’t know. I just don’t understand that,” said Bird. “(It’s) very troubling.”
It’s troubling after six years of improvement projects. Virtue said between contributions and city funds, at least $100,000 have been poured into upgrades. And when it comes to fixing vandalism damage, look no further than taxpayer dollars.
It’s not Robin Nelson’s money, but she understands the frustration.
“I work hard for my money, I really do,” said Nelson. “And I don’t want to see all my taxes going on something that’s already been fixed once before.”
For those responsible, the mayor had one simple message:
“We will find you, and when we do find you we’ll prosecute you to the full extent of the law,” said Virtue.
Jensen Grove does have surveillance cameras. Police said they’re reviewing the footage, but had no suspects on Thursday night.
Police are asking recreators to alert authorities to anything suspicious, even if it’s just damage after the fact, by calling 208-785-1234.