Months of ongoing vandalism to the restrooms at Waterhouse Center has forced town officials to lock the doors at 5 p.m. and install portable toilets for the public to use until the facility closes at 8 p.m.
Town Manager Mike Pardue said the vandalism, which is occurring during the evening hours, has escalated throughout the winter. Both bathrooms have sustained repeated vandalism, with the women’s being the worst, Pardue said.
“There’s been damage to the countertops, which have been broken off the wall several times. We feel it’s due to people sitting on them. Unfortunately in each restroom there has been fecal matter spread on the walls. So this is about the health and safety of not only people using the center, but also our town maintenance staff,” Pardue said.
He said the restrooms will be locked at 5 p.m. and portable toilets are being installed, at a cost to the Waterhouse Center Foundation.
“Sadly this increases demand on the Waterhouse endowment that made this landmark possible,” said Dick Morin, chairman of the Board of Selectmen. “Our town finances and the Waterhouse gift are under a lot of pressure. This just doesn’t help at all.”
There are video cameras on the rink and outside the restrooms, but it’s not possible to know which individuals going in and out might be creating the damage, Pardue said.
“We know that this creates an inconvenience for the people who use and enjoy Waterhouse Center, and who don’t do things like this. We know 99 percent of the people are using it and enjoying it as they should. But the cost and the time for our town staff to sanitize and rebuild and repair these restrooms is starting to add up,” he said.
“Waterhouse Center is our town’s centerpiece. It is an absolute shame that a few can spoil it for all the rest,” Morin said.
Pardue said the Kennebunk Police Department has investigated the vandalism, and they will be patrolling the area more closely. Items have been found wedged into the doors to keep them from locking, Pardue said, so officers will be checking to ensure they are locked whenever possible.
The Zamboni drivers are often the only staff members on site, according to Pardue.
“Our Zamboni drivers are all volunteers, and they aren’t required to stay there, their job is to maintain the ice. They are not there to police the area.”
If the vandalism doesn’t stop, the town may have to consider a rink attendant, and that would be costly.
Pardue hopes townspeople will self-monitor, and will speak up if they see something that’s inappropriate. He urged people to call town hall or the police department if they see anything to report.
“We really hope that engagement by the citizenry will help thwart future vandalization so we can all enjoy Waterhouse Center as it’s meant to be,” Pardue said.
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