playground_totlot120When a unique mosaic sign disappeared from the playground at Myers Park people noticed.  The Lansing Parks and Recreation Department was alerted by phone.  Park Superintendent Steve Colt said that whether it was a prank or vandalism, he hoped that the hand-made, irreplaceable sign would be returned.  He posted an alert on the department's Facebook page that was only established less than two weeks ago.  Early Wednesday afternoon Colt said that he hoped it was just a good samaritan who had removed it to clean or repair it.

"That was the first thing I was hoping I would hear," he said.  "That wouldn't surprise me because of the way and the park and the playground have been adopted by the people who use it and the people who built it.  If somebody saw that the mosaic was getting a little grimy or anything to do with the sign, it wouldn't surprise me if someone had taken it down and repaired, cleaned and reinstalled it.  That's the type of great people that we have here, that would do that."

playground_totlot_missingResidents were concerned when they noticed a community-made mosaic sign missing from the Myers Park Playground Tuesday

That sounded optimistic, but didn't seem likely.  Colt reached out to the Tompkins County Sheriff's Office Tuesday, preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.

By mid-Wednesday afternoon he got his wish.  The sign had fallen and been retrieved by a resident so it could be kept safe until it can be repaired.  As unlikely as that sounds in this day and age, Colt says that malicious vandalism is a rare problem in the Lansing parks.

"I think the occurrences of vandalism have actually gone down," Colt said.  "I believe it because there are so many more people who use it and like it."

Colt was referring to an incident in October of 2012 when nearly $7,000 of damage was inflicted on Myers and Ludlowville Parks and $1,700 of damage was done to school property.  Graffiti had been sprayed on the Lansing lighthouse, bluestone memorial benches and plaques in Myers Park.  Spray paint also marred the gazebo in Ludlowville Park, the former Lansing Central School District Office, and the Lansing High School concessions building and sidewalks at the football field.  Two young men were arrested and charged with two counts each of Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree (D felony) and two counts of Making Graffiti (a class A misdemeanor).  Colt says that was the worst instance of vandalism he has seen in his tenure as Park Superintendent.

At that time he and many residents were especially outraged because community-built projects were targeted by the vandals.  He had the same concern Wednesday.  Colt said he was more concerned with getting the sign back than prosecuting anyone for taking it. 

"It was the kids and the community and a volunteer build," he said.  "It's a one of a kind sign and it would awfully tough to replace it."

playground_totlot_makingVolunteers crafted one-of-a-kind mosaic signs for Myers Park Playground in 2010

As it turned out his best instincts were validated.  A resident had, indeed noticed that the sign had fallen from its frame at the entrance to the part of the playground reserved for little kids.  He called Leathers & Associates' Kyle Cundy to ask what to do.  Leathers & Associates designed the playground based on Lansing kids' ideas, then facilitated the community build in 2010.  Since that time the playground design firm has opened an office in Jupiter, Florida, where Cundy is now located.  She told him to take it for safekeeping.  Each assumed the other would call the Parks & Rec Department to let them know what had happened.

Meanwhile, someone who knew the man saw Colt's post on the facebook page and let him know what had really happened.  Before the day was ended Colt had received a picture of the sign showing a crack it sustained when it fell.  He said he had been in touch with Cundy, who offered to look at it when she is in town for an upcoming business trip and to advise on its repair.

playground_totlot_ddctnThe sign crowns the entrance of the 'tots' portion of the playground

"When people use the parks they love they take ownership and it makes them upset when this stuff happens," Colt said.  "As a whole, outside of that radical occurrence of vandalism, it's shockingly low.  And we're very thankful for that."