Vandals dent Rocky Point cleanup
Cleanup operations at Rocky Point suffered a setback Tuesday when most of the heavy equipment used to do the job was silenced by the work of vandals.
Windows were smashed on 15 pieces of equipment, a gas tank was bashed in, hard hats were taken and an office trailer was broken into and a copier/fax smashed and plans stolen sometime late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.
HK&S Construction owns some of the equipment, but a lot of it was also leased by the North Kingstown company contracted to clear the park of debris, standing buildings and grade and seed the land by Sept. 8.
Tuesday morning the site was silent as Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and representatives from HK&S and ABM Group of Warwick, which is overseeing the contract for the state, assessed the situation and what it meant to operations. Not far from where they talked, dozers, shovels and trucks, some with shards of safety glass spread below them, were quiet. By that afternoon, two pieces of equipment were running, and a third – a concrete crusher – was delivered to the site.
“We’re doing what we can,” said HK&S supervisor Michael Garafolo.
He said he arrived after 6 a.m. Tuesday to find the damage. The overhead door to the office trailer had been pried open. Windows in the trailer were broken and the contents of a file cabinet rummaged through.
“I’m not too happy right now,” said a dejected Garofalo, who sat at a makeshift desk while looking over a list of damaged equipment. He said it appears those responsible used chunks of concrete to do their dirty work.
Police were immediately alerted, and Garofalo said detectives dusted for fingerprints and compiled a list of damaged equipment. Maj. Raymond Gallucci gave an initial estimate of damage at more than $16,000.
“They are not stopping us from working,” Garofalo said of the vandals. He said he would have had eight equipment operators on the job Tuesday, but instead there were just two.
It is hard to know whether the destruction will affect plans to finish the cleanup in time for a late September park opening.
Tentative DEM plans are for an opening festival that would include some carnival rides, music, food and, naturally, an official ceremony.
In the short term, DEM plans to make the 82 acres the state has acquired accessible to pedestrian traffic from the 41 acres owned by the city. A section of the former amusement park parking lot is being preserved, as well as the former exit to Palmer Avenue that would become accessible to vehicular traffic for special events only at this time. Long-term plans for the park are likely to include some form of private partnership, such as operations of a form of concession. A new dock and use of open space are in the early discussion stages.
Undaunted by the destruction and the work it will take to get everything operational, Garofalo said, “We aim to meet the deadline.”