Two toilets were destroyed in the vandalism. The full cost to repairs may not be known until water is turned back on. PHOTO COURTESY ADAM JOHNSON

It stinks

Unprecedented vandalism at the Big Sky Community Park

Big Sky Community Organization (BSCO) had a rude introduction to 2021 – unprecedented vandalism at the Big Sky Community Park. BSCO Communication & Development Director Michelle Kendziorski and BSCO Parks and Trails Director Adam Johnson concurred that the vandalism was unlike anything the organization had ever encountered.

Johnson explained that the doors to the restrooms by the river pavilion in Big Sky Community Park were kickedin, fires were lit in all toilets, urinals, sinks and garbage cans; walls were scorched, two toilets were destroyed and the plumbing ripped from the urinals.

He said they have no idea the cost for repairs and the full extent of the damage may not be realized until water to the structure is turned back on.

In the past, the door was once kicked in and someone threw firecrackers in the toilets, there have been a few cases of spray paint on structures, incidents that Johnson describes as more mischievous than malicious. He anticipates this level of destruction will have a hefty price tag.

“It’s an unplanned-for expense so we are going to have to try to figure out where that money comes from. We don’t know if insurance will cover it at this point,” he said.

He explained that if insurance does not come through, the money for repairs will likely have to be pulled away from other budgets of the park.

BSCO reported the incident to the Gallatin County Sheriff ’s Office on Jan. 5.

“Anecdotally this sort of thing is pretty uncommon in our community,” said GCSO Sergeant Dan Haydon. “Right now, we are looking at this as a criminal mischief charge.”

The definition of criminal mischief is when for no legitimate purpose a person causes damage to the property of another. He explained that $1,500 is the cut off: below is a misdemeanor and over is a felony. That determination will be the difference in the amount of the potential jail time as well as the size of the potential fine.

Haydon said the sheriff ’s office needs the community’s help in zeroing-in on the date and time the incident occurred as well as identifying a suspect.

He encouraged anyone with information to call the sheriff ’s office at (406) 995-4880. Even being able to say that the damage was not present on a certain date will be helpful, he noted.

“This is not the way that we wanted to start 2021,” Johnson said.

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