Botanical gardens vandalized

Park supervisor 'disturbed' by incident

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— Officials are estimating about $2,000 worth of damage was caused to the Yampa Valley Botanical Gardens sometime over the weekend.

A steel arch was ruined, windows to a storage shed were broken, pots were shattered and brochure boxes were destroyed, leaving literature littered all over the park.

"I'm disturbed this happened," said Gayle Noonan, park supervisor. "The park is for everybody else's enjoyment. It is too bad a few make trouble."

The park was vandalized not even a week after it opened, which was April 16.

Noonan and an assistant spent a good portion of Monday afternoon cleaning up the damage that was caused sometime between Friday evening and Monday.

Currently, Steamboat Springs Police are investigating the damage, said Assistant Police Chief Art Fiebing.

Police and Noonan were notified of the damage about noon when a volunteer went to the park to check on bird feeders.

The volunteer was greeted by a bent arch sculpture decorated with hummingbirds.

"The arch is basically ruined," Noonan said. "It looks like if someone tried to hang on it and brought it down."

Also found damaged were windows to a storage shed.

"It is a good thing we have bars on the window, or they might have been able to get into the shed," she said.

Boxes that are set up on posts all along the garden were also damaged. The boxes' paper contents were scattered all over the park.

A tree was also vandalized along with numerous pots.

Steamboat Springs resident Lynn Bear was walking through the park during her lunch hour at about the time the damage was discovered.

"It is a terrible, terrible thing that happened," said Bear, who makes a point to walk through the park. "That place is such a treasure. It is such a treat to see the plants grow and bring pleasure to everyone who walks through there. I think what happened is not a kind thing to do."

The vandalism came at a time when Noonan along with volunteers are getting the park ready for the summer months. Starting at the end of June, the park will host a summer concert series sponsored by Strings in the Mountains.

The park features 35 gardens that house a variety of herbs, flowers and plants native to the Yampa Valley.

The park is along the Yampa River Core Trail, giving easy access to pedestrians and bicyclists. The park is open from dawn to dusk but is not closed off.

The park has been a staple in the city since 1997 when it first opened.

The land was donated to the city by Bob and Audrey Enever. Construction of the park began in 1994.

Along with the gardens, the 5 acres of property also features a large grass area, benches and three ponds.

"I don't think we will have to lock the park up," Noonan said. "We have been real lucky in the past. Last year, we did not have any problems. The year before we did but nothing major."

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