Thefts and vandalism at Black Rock Canal Park are causing thousands of dollars in damages as the park is in the midst of the second phase of a multimillion dollar reconstruction.
Construction equipment and supplies stored by Pyramid Masonry were stolen and destroyed Monday night in the fourth such incident at the park, authorities said during a new conference Wednesday outside the Edward A. Rath County Office Building.
“It is outrageous and unacceptable that individuals are attempting to destroy the hard work that’s been done to transform Black Rock Canal Park into the family-friendly area that it is, hard work that stretches back many years and involves many people,” Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said.
Work on the park in Buffalo’s Riverside community is being undermined by the persistent damage, Poloncarz said.
Contractors also have experienced vandalism and theft of equipment and materials that were left inside the fenced-off construction site overnight. To date, those losses total nearly $30,000.
Since early this month, more than $5,000 in tools and supplies have been stolen from Scott Lawn Yard’s locked equipment trailer, which was broken into at the site. Two weeks later, vandals returned to damage construction equipment and break into two more locked trailers to steal electrical construction equipment from another contractor.
The latest incident involved the theft of ladders, outriggers, scaffolding and metal supports along with the destruction of construction supplies.
The damage has sparked community outrage and also drawn renewed commitments from law enforcement and community groups to increase surveillance at the park. Poloncarz said.
“We’re looking for anyone with any information. Give a call to the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, Crimestoppers at 867-6161, which is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible,” said Chief Scott Josyln of the Erie County Sheriff’s Police Services Division.
“We have a couple of leads that we’re following up on now,” he added.
Poloncarz called the damage a crime against the citizens of Erie County and said that, once caught, the perpetrators will pay a price.
“This is the kind of thing that we should not tolerate as a community. We’re investing more than $1 million of work at Black Rock Canal Park with this second phase so that the public can enjoy the park,” Poloncarz said.
“They should be held responsible,” he added regarding the perpetrators. “They should be punished and they should be serving jail time for causing this much damage.”
Joslyn said the sheriff’s office and the Buffalo Police Department are ramping up patrols in the park. The sheriff’s office also is encouraging those who spot suspicious activity to call 858-2903.
The damage at Black Rock Creek Park comes on the heels of $15,000 in damage caused to two restroom facilities at Chestnut Ridge Park last month.