Santa Rosa repairs vandalism on Prince Memorial Greenway

  • City of Santa Rosa public works electrician Dana Kutches, right, and parks and recreation groundskeeper Ryan Dodds work on repairing broken lights along the Prince Memorial Greenway in Santa Rosa, on Tuesday, February 12, 2013. A total of 18 lights needed repair.

    (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

A stretch of the Prince Memorial Greenway in downtown Santa Rosa was closed Tuesday morning as crews replaced broken and vandalized light fixtures that illuminate the pathway on the north side of Santa Rosa Creek.

The path was closed from 9 a.m. until just after noon so that crews could use a mobile lift to remove broken lenses and bulbs and install new pieces. City officials were alerted in early January that numerous elevated path lights were damaged and out, said Tom LoCoco, parks supervisor.

"Some of them have bullet holes in them," city public works department electrician Dana Kutches said.

The light replacement cost about $6,000 in materials, according to city crews.

City officials last year launched two programs to thwart vandalism and crime on the half-mile greenway, which starts at Santa Rosa Avenue and connects to other pathway systems, including the Joe Rodota Trail.

Greenway Cleanway coordinates volunteer groups for graffiti removal, trash pickup and weed removal. Greenway Guardians is modeled after Neighborhood Watch and encourages regular users to wear buttons supporting the park and report vandalism and other crimes.

"The Greenway Guardians isn't about approaching anyone or being police in the area. It's abut being a presence," said Georgia Pedgrift, the city community engagement coordinator. "The idea is that you have filled the space with a positive influence and it makes less room for other things."

City groundskeeper Ryan Dodds said he walks the greenway every day, removing or covering fresh graffiti.

"Getting it off right away, it really deters them from coming back and doing it again or someone counter-tagging," he said.

The greenway, which runs along the creek and intermittently drops below downtown roadways, has been a draw for the homeless. On Tuesday morning, at least two temporary camps were tucked in among the shrubbery near where crews worked at the South A Street overpass.

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