Wallingford residents upset over Doolittle Park issues

Wallingford Police say many of the issues at Doolittle Park involve middle and high school students, including possibly a burnt-out playscape over the weekend.

WALLINGFORD, Conn. — A play set in Doolittle Park in Wallingford burned down Saturday night and is now closed as the city works to replace equipment.

The slides have been melted down and the wooden frame is burnt.

Richelle Stainton said it was sad to see. She brings her children to the park to play every week and came on Tuesday to see the damage.

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“Someone has to fix this. Someone has to pay for this,” the mum said. “I still feel safe. I feel like it was a lack of supervision.

Police say they have a lot of trouble with minors in the park.

In early October, a coach was allegedly assaulted at Doolittle Park. Officer Alex Torres says juvenile complaints are up 95 from the same time last year.

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“As far as arson goes, it’s gone a bit too far,” he said. “We are not happy with what is happening.”

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He said the department had “very strong leads” as to who the suspects might be. He encourages them to come forward, but if not, the ministry will find them.

Neighbors have expressed concerns about the safety of the park for years.

Mike Glidden spoke to City Council last week about a lack of action when issues were raised in November 2020.

“We talked about the issues of being a neighbor, not just the dangerous maintenance issues, but also the nuisance issues that are happening there. So for two years, I guess our complaints were never heard,” he said at the meeting.

Stainton says she has been aware of the issues at the public park since she was a child herself.

“I’ve heard about problems since the 1970s. My parents talk about problems here. It’s a big park, it’s dark and there aren’t a lot of car lanes,” she said. “We need more monitoring.”

Security cameras will come up soon, Officer Torres said. He said the process had been delayed due to electrical issues, but the fire had heightened the need for devices.

Stainton said she hopes the security cameras will help deter crime. Officer Torres said police are increasing patrols in the park.

“We have officers pulling over, they park there, they walk around the landscape,” he said. “It’s my eight to four o’clock zone, and I keep an eye on it. I go out. In fact, I communicate with minors.

Stainton said the community, including parents, must consider their children.

“It’s sad the disconnect that sometimes we look at these miners and forget they were once children, but sadly it seems like they forget like they were once children and playing and this landscape of play “said Agent Torres.

Officer Torres says there may be prior situations that could be linked to who was responsible for Saturday’s fire, but this would be the most serious. He said they wanted people to feel comfortable in the park, a message echoed by Mayor William Dickinson.

He told FOX61 it was vandalism in the extreme and shouldn’t deter people from using the park. The mayor said they are working to remove and replace the equipment as soon as possible.

“It has to stop because there are a lot of other kids and kids and parents enjoying their time at the park and we want them to continue,” Constable Torres said.

Stainton said while the fire damage is sad, the community will rebuild.

FOX61 reached out to City Council and the Department of Parks and Recreation for comment and did not hear back.

Tony Black is a multimedia reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and instagram.

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