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New public restroom vandalized

An unknown party vandalized one of the public restrooms on Sunday evening at Pioneer Park in Park Rapids, doing approximately $500 worth of damage by burning toilet paper and a plastic diaper changing station. (Robin Fish/Enterprise)

Vandalism has already struck the public restrooms that opened this spring at Pioneer Park in Park Rapids.

One or more unknown persons set a fire in one of the restrooms at approximately 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 19.

The city has closed the restroom for cleanup and repair.

Fires were set in a diaper changing station, which contained a combustible powder, as well as the restroom's toilet paper supply. As a result, the changing station disintegrated and the walls and floor were left covered in smoke stains, ash and a puddle of melted plastic.

Chris Fieldsend, the city's public facilities superintendent, told the Enterprise that the damage was probably less than $500, not including cleanup. This includes the cost of replacing the brand-new toilet paper dispenser and changing station.

Fieldsend said there has been vandalism at city parks before, including garbage cans burned at Deane Park and painted graffiti at Depot Park.

"I can't believe they burned this one already," he added. "We just opened it."

The Pioneer Park restrooms opened in May.

According to Park Rapids Fire Chief Donn Hoffman, the damage was most likely caused by juvenile vandalism.

"The evidence was very minimal," said Hoffman. "There was a lighter on scene."

Fortunately, he said, there was very little fuel in the concrete-block building apart from paper and plastic hygiene products.

"It was pure mischief," Hoffman said.