By David Pendered

If you build a Beltline park, they will come – and trash it.

That has been the experience with a park that opened May 14 following a $4.5 million restoration. D.H. Stanton Park is located in Southeast Atlanta, adjacent to the city’s planned corridor of transit, trails, greenspace and development.

“It’s extremely disappointing and disturbing, what’s happening at Stanton Park,” said city parks Commissioner George Dusenberry.

The graffiti apparently isn’t of a nature that can be considered urban art.

“It’s F— You,” said Atlanta Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd.

The subject of vandalism at Stanton Park arose Tuesday at the Atlanta City Council’s Community Development Committee. No action was taken.

D.H. Stanton Park
D.H. Stanton Park

Stanton Park is located a few blocks south of the half-way point between Turner Field and Zoo Atlanta. It’s in the Peoplestown neighborhood.

The park’s rebirth was of great significance in a struggling quarter of the city. That’s partly because a girl was burnt there on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 1999 as she scooted down a sliding board.

Methane gas ignited beneath the slide after it had leaked from an old landfill beneath the park.

The park’s recent destruction is beyond that of neighborhood pranksters, based on Dusenberry’s comments.

“It’s breaking glass walls and windows, tearing water fountains off walls,” Dusenberry said. “It is vandalism – thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars.”

Dusenberry said the vandals likely live in the community.

“It’s not like people are driving D.H. Stanton to destroy it,” Dusenberry said.

Councilman Michael J. Bond suggested that security cameras could be installed. Police could monitor the cameras and use them to catch the vandals.

Deborah Scott, executive director of Georgia Stand-Up, said the city needs to provide adequate funds to secure parks.

Dusenberry asked anyone with information about the vandals to call Atlanta police at 9-1-1.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written...

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  1. This is sad to hear about, especially for those residents in the community. I hope this vandalism does not deter or slow down the City’s plans with the Beltine – we need to continue the positive progress.

  2. This type of activity will continue until the City provides fulltime police coverage to keep the vandals at bay. Barring fulltime coverage, it is a waste of money to build targets for vandals.

  3. @ Rob

    One definition of insanity is repeating the same activity again and again, and expecting a different result.
    Building more vandal targets without fulltime police coverage is insanity.

  4. ATL’s Vandal Cancer: Simply drive from the airport into Downtown…the city looks beat. All the street signage and overpasses are covered with graffiti. The message is that the city leadership doesn’t care– and Atlantans have lost their civic pride.

  5. It’s sad, but this vandalism will only continue even after the Beltline project is completed. Hopefully the Beltline encourages Atlantans to take pride in their community.

    But if you are familiar with the area, this would not really surprise you. Peoplestown has bored kids hanging out in the streets late into the night.

  6. Justino:

    I agree 100% with your comment. I also believe the word ‘graffiti” should be banned from the dictionary and changed to “spray paint vandalism”. I am in the construction field and my blood boils every single time I see spray paint vandalism. It is done by lazy, worthless individuals who bring absolutely nothing to a community but eyesores. I can only guess most of these mentally ill, incompetent individuals do not work and enjoy ruining other craftsmens’ (masons, bricklayers, painters, etc.) hard work. I feel a better effort shouild be made by the City of Atlanta and law enforcement to catch, prosecute and jail these jackasses. If I ever catch one, I will be making a citizens arrest. I hope that’s legal to do. I could rail for hours on this topic, but these morons degrade our city. Period!

  7. I have a novel idea… Build a park for the residents. Let the residents, be it a small minoirty, destroy the new park. Instead of repairing the park on the governments dime, let the residents who live in the area, who may have been involved in the vandalism, and who may know who performed the vandalism… let them make the repairs. If the city government just gives with no responsibility taken by the residents of the neighborhood, the same result is doomed to recycle itself.

  8. I live in Peoplestown and personally witnessed the smashing of the glass blocks on the restrooms at Stanton Park (1.5k worth of damage done). I called 911 but by the time they arrived, the 3 boys (ALL UNDER THE AGE OF 10), had run off. I also spoke to the office who came the next morning (when the construction foreman called him). He knew nothing about the call I had made the previous night to 911! I again informed him that is was 3 young unsupervised boys.

    We’re dealing with parentless children, not unruly teens or gangs…….. Sadly. 🙁 I watch 8 year old girls pushing their infant brothers/sisters around in strollers, parent’s no where to be seen. It breaks my heart. What our city needs isn’t more police. We need people who care and want to help lift up these children. They need adults who care about them, help them with their homework and who will teach them that their future is worth waiting for……..

    And in case your wondering, I tutor some of the children in Peoplestown. Instead of just posting on these sites complaining about what our city ISN’T doing, I moved down here to be part of the solution……..caring about my city and my neighbors (AND their children)

  9. The way people care fir their neighborhood and homes is a reflection on the class (or lack of class) of the neighbors.

    Stay classy “Peoples”town.

  10. PeoplestownResident: You hit the nail on the head. More police patrol is only one part of the solution and doesn’t go to the root cause..parents, extended families and neighbors need to be a part of the solution. Good for you for being part of the solution.

  11. Maybe the community needs to actually step up and take responsibility for a change instead of expecting the city to police this area, after all the residents of this community benefit from this beautiful park and if they don’t place a value on it, no security provided will protect it in the long run.
    It may be the case that the time for excusing this type of behavior is not beneficial to anyone. This money could have been better spent else where it seems.

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